Saskatchewan's New Democrats want the government to pilot and evaluate a guaranteed basic income program and, if the results prove successful, they want the program introduced province-wide, as a key measure to tackle poverty and improve health, social and economic outcomes.
A basic income program, which can be delivered through a cash transfer model or a negative income tax, is a much simpler and more streamlined approach than current income security programs, and many experts argue it is also a much more effective approach at reducing poverty.
The Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction recently recommended that the provincial government implement a basic income pilot project. The Canadian Medical Association also recently passed a resolution in support of such an initiative.
"If we successfully tackle poverty in our province, we'll reap the benefits of better health outcomes, better social outcomes and better economic outcomes. That means brighter futures and a stronger province for every one of us," said NDP Social Services critic David Forbes.
"Guaranteed basic income programs have shown promise elsewhere, and they've received support from across the political spectrum. So we think it makes good sense to implement a pilot project here."
Forbes said the Opposition New Democrats think the advisory group's other recommendations are also promising and he repeated the Opposition's call for urgent action to implement a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy.
"Poverty costs our province a massive amount of money, so it's time to get serious and smart about tackling it."