During the Great Recession a decade ago, a meme went around echoing the words of renowned economist Milton Friedman. He said that when a crisis hits, the response depends on the ideas lying around.
In all, it amounts to $27 billion in direct stimulus spending, plus $55 billion in tax deferrals meant to give households and businesses breathing room until the fall, for a total cost of $82 billion.
All of it is designed to keep incomes flowing to businesses and households at a time when large tracts of the economy have simply shut down. But there is an idea that has been lying around that could achieve the same thing, likely more effectively and certainly more simply: A universal basic income.
According to a 2018 Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) report, a Canada-wide basic income of the type experimented with in Ontario a few years ago would have a net cost of $43 billion ― or just a little more than half the cost of the stimulus package announced Wednesday.
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