Canada’s K-shaped recovery is deepening the lines between rich and poor. Here’s how we can shift our economy toward a fair outcome for all
As a famous group of puppets on Sesame Street would say, “Today’s letter of the day is ‘K.’ ”
But what if a “k” is not what we want?
This is the situation the Canadian economy finds itself in: current economic data shows that the pre-pandemic well-off are benefiting while the pre-pandemic marginalized are suffering considerably.
For example, white-collar workers are benefiting from work-from-home’s favourable commute times, low interest rates to upsize their living space, and soaring financial assets in their portfolios.Read more
We set up a tent in the woods,” Bonnie said. “My husband will get money for us to eat.” We sat outside, sharing coffee and I asked how they became homeless. She begged at the off-ramp, held a cardboard sign and occasionally plucked a dollar dangled from a car window.
In New York City, the poor increasingly camp on sidewalks or in parks. In the nation at large, millions are at risk of eviction. The CARES Act, the first stimulus package during the pandemic, prevented masses of people from losing their homes and falling into poverty. It was emergency stopgap legislation whose effects have worn off. Another stimulus bill will not be enough.
We need Universal Basic Income (UBI), which is the cash transfer from the government to all or nearly all of its citizens. It is unconditional. It is consistent. In the middle of a global financial meltdown, it can stop poverty from destroying another generation and maybe repair the damage of the past.Read more
Mayor Aja Brown is bringing a guaranteed income program to Compton, Calif.
She announced earlier this week that the Compton Pledge ensures a basic income to 800 of the city's residents over the next two years, focusing on those who have the most difficulty making ends meet.
The mayor says this program can help her city address inequality and provide a sense of relief for single-parent households, people working multiple jobs, undocumented immigrants, formerly incarcerated residents and more.
Private donors have funded Compton's guaranteed income program, which is set to provide residents with $300 to $600 U.S. dollars monthly starting later this year. The pilot is based on a smaller study in Stockton, Calif., five hours north of Compton, that took place last year.Read more
It sounds like fiction, at first blush: hundreds of dollars appearing in your bank account every month, for no reason other than being alive.
However, Newfoundland and Labrador is taking the first step toward making a guaranteed basic income a reality.
"A Tory senator wrote a book on why we should do this as a country," Labrador West MHA Jordan Brown said on the assembly floor last Wednesday, in reference to basic income advocate Hugh Segal.
"This crosses party lines, corporate lines … this is something that's been talked about since the Seventies."
Brown tabled the private member's motion calling for the province to examine what a basic income might look like here, including who would receive it and how much.Read more
A new book is out by Evelyn Forget called Basic Income for Canadians: From the COVID-19 Emergency to Financial Security for All.
An update to her 2018 book in the wake of the worldwide pandemic, this book is an eminently readable manifesto that will undoubtedly help move the needle from discussing basic income to its eventual adoption.
From the publisher’s site:
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of providing a basic income to everyone in Canada who needs it was already gaining broad support. Then, in response to a crisis that threatened to put millions out of work, the federal government implemented new measures which constituted Canada?s largest ever experiment with a basic income for almost everyone.
In this new and revised edition, Evelyn L. Forget offers a clear-eyed look at how these emergency measures could be transformed into a program that ensures an adequate basic income for every Canadian.
Forget details what we can learn from earlier basic income experiments in Canada and internationally. She weighs the options, investigates whether Canadians can afford a permanent basic income program and describes how it could best be implemented across the country.Read more
Hugh Segal, Evelyn Forget, Keith Banting
From the Abstract
COVID-19 has shone a harsh light on the extent of poverty in Canada.
The arrival of the pandemic in Canada affected the health of the population and made unprecedented demands on the healthcare system across Canada.
The greatest impact fell on expressly vulnerable populations in long term healthcare facilities, amongst migrant guest worker clusters and in areas of more intense concentrations of large urban populations.
That these Canadians were living in lowincome, high-density areas of larger communities where space and self isolation were more difficult, contributed to their enhanced infection rate. Their diminished health prospects affect
their families, neighbourhoods, and resistance to any infection, let alone an infection as potentially life threatening as the COVID-19 Coronovirus.
Globe and Mail
Evelyn Forget is author of Basic Income for Canadians: From the COVID-19 Emergency to Financial Security for All. Sheila Regehr is chair of the Basic Income Canada Network.
Last month’s Throne Speech committed to the creation of a new Canadian Disability Benefit for persons with disabilities – that’s good news. The details remain vague, but some disability advocates have long championed a basic income for people with disabilities. The new Disability Benefit may offer a step toward that reality.
Basic income is a guarantee that no Canadian will have to live on an income far below the poverty line. It is not a replacement for necessary public services, but rather a federal government cash transfer made directly to individuals that would replace provincial income assistance and supplement the incomes of the working poor.Read more