A leadership hopeful for the NDP Party of Saskatchewan, Dr. Ryan Meili, says it’s time for Saskatchewan to “take the leap” and support a basic income guarantee.
Meili, who recently won a Saskatoon-area by-election for the NDP and is now a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), is also a medical doctor in Saskatoon. In addition, he is the founder of a progressive movement called ‘Upstream.’ While he is no longer affiliated with the non-partisan Upstream, the core tenets of the movement still inform his stance on the issues.
This includes more upstream thinking on matters of public health policy, recognizing that health is largely a result of the living conditions in which people find themselves and can therefore be improved with better policy decisions.
Perhaps the most important of these social determinants of health is income and income distribution, which is why Meili supports a basic income.
“I would like to see basic income achieved, whether that’s on our own (in Saskatchewan) or with federal involvement. The bottom line is I think it’s time for one province to truly take the leap in implementing a basic income,” says Meili.
While he is happy that Ontario is running a pilot on basic income and that British Columbia and Prince Edward Island have also expressed strong interest, he believes it’s time to bypass testing and just get it done.
“Basic income is a significant change in how we approach income assistance. The punitive claw backs that we build in for our current social assistance programs creates welfare walls,” he says.
Meili says what he likes about basic income compared to other potential ways to ensure adequate income for people is that it provides enough to live on and “frees people from the drama and serial crises” which characterizes people’s attempts to live below the poverty line.
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