Canada's labour minister says basic income is on the table

Hamilton News

Canada’s Labour Minister Filomena Tassi says the federal government is considering establishing a universal basic income as a way to help people impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

As the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) ends in September and merges with a revamped employment insurance benefit program, anti-poverty activists have called on the Liberals to establish a basic income program after seeing how effective it can be for citizens who have lost their jobs.

“This is a progressive policy,” said Tassi, Liberal MP for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas. “Everything is on the table for us as we move forward. We are taking a look at the impact COVID has had on Canadians and really working on how to come up with solutions to getting Canadians working and providing them with the supports they need during this very challenging time.”

In late August, the CERB was extended to the end of September, as part of a $37-billion plan for workers impacted by the pandemic announced. A new benefit that pays $400 a week for up to 26 weeks will replace CERB for those ineligible for employment insurance.

CERB was announced in March to provide applicants with $2,000 a month over a four-month span.

Anyone eligible for employment insurance will get the same minimum $400 for at least 26 weeks and will need to have worked 120 hours to qualify, far below current employment insurance requirements.

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