An Economic Recovery for Who?

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 2148 ... July 17, 2020
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An Economic Recovery for Who?
The Ford Omnibus Bill and Post-Pandemic Politics

Bruce Kecskes

In the first week of July, the Ontario government announced the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act (Bill 197). The sweeping omnibus bill changes twenty pieces of existing legislation and introduces several new acts. There has been little discussion in the mainstream media regarding the content of the bill, outside of the talking points provided by the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Steve Clark, and Education Minister Stephen Lecce. According to Clark, the Recovery Act would speed up the process for environmental assessments, address unemployment, create new consumer protections, and attract investors to the province. Lecce has declared that the omnibus contains measures to end school suspension prior to the fourth grade.

Any criticism of the bill that has appeared in the media, insofar as there has been any published criticism at all, has centered around the inclusion of measures which have little to do with COVID-19 or the economy. Such unrelated measures include changes to the Education Act, modifying the appointment process... for provincial justices of the peace, and an array of other bureaucratic alterations. What has not yet been significantly interrogated is what impact the relevant measures to economic recovery will have. Who is being saved through this economic recovery plan? In a neoliberal economy, there is no such thing as mutually beneficial legislation for labour and capital, and of these antagonistic classes, it is capital that, almost without fail, is the beneficiary of state economic planning. This is the case with the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act. The measures by which the Ford government intends to save the economy signals the end of pandemic politics and elucidates the establishment’s forthcoming post-Covid political project. The emergency fiscal and monetary policy appears to be over, and the omnibus bill warns of a swift return to the neoliberal orthodoxies of flexibilization, deregulation, and codification of the power of investor capital.

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