Green Party leader urges feds to consider universal basic income as 'safety net' beyond pandemic

Green Party leader Annamie Paul is calling on the federal government to launch discussions on creating a national guaranteed livable income.

“A guaranteed livable income is almost inevitably going to have to be part of the solution if we’re going to ensure that everyone has a social safety net beneath them,” Paul said at a roundtable discussion Monday with Independent Sen. Kim Pate and co-founder of Revenu de base Québec Jonathan Brun.

Paul says the pandemic has shed light on the high number of people who would have been struggling to make ends meet — had it not been for emergency benefits.

There have been almost 10 million Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) applications since its launch in late September, costing the government $9.88 billion, according to the Canada Revenue Agency, plus millions more applications from its predecessor, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), as well as other benefits.

So far, the government has indicated it isn’t itching for a basic income program. “It’s not something that we see a path to moving forward with right now,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a virtual town hall last December.

Data suggests employment gains made in the fall have been wiped, with the unemployment rate rising to 9.4 per cent — its highest rate since last summer, according to Statistics Canada.

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