Coronavirus pandemic raises question: Is it time for a basic income?

Global News

Economic havoc wreaked by the coronavirus has led some to ask whether it’s time for a basic income.

In Canada alone, more than a million people have lost their jobs since March, with millions applying for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which gives $2,000 every month for up to four months to those who’ve lost income due to COVID-19

As the pandemic’s cost to society became clear last month, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called for “immediate direct help” in the form of a universal basic income.

Some countries are looking for longer-term solutions.

Spain, for instance, is now trying to figure out a way to introduce a potentially permanent universal basic income to combat the economic effects of the pandemic, according to Bloomberg News.

Is it time to start considering a basic income — universal or otherwise — in Canada, too? 

A targeted basic income has been needed for a long time, said Prof. Evelyn Forget, an economist at the University of Manitoba. 

“I think a targeted basic income, which gets money to people who need it in a reasonably consistent way, is something that we’ve needed for a long time,” Forget said. 

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