Pandemic making the case for basic income

CBC News

As every schoolchild knows, it was the First World War that brought Canadian women into the workplace (though of course, they had always been working). Even after the men returned from the front, women continued to work — and what was a temporary change turned into a new societal norm.

The Great War left us with another supposedly temporary measure: income tax. "I have placed no time limit upon this measure," said then finance minister Thomas White in 1917. "A year or two after the war is over, the measure should be reviewed."

We all know how that turned out.

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Could the CERB program lead Canada toward offering a universal basic income?

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Globe and Mail

When Ottawa unveiled emergency payments of $2,000 to individuals who lost work because of the coronavirus, the program looked to be a stepped-up version of the decades-old Employment Insurance program.

But as the government has moved to fill gaps in the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, the nature of the program is quickly evolving into something that resembles a universal basic income.

A universal basic income, or UBI, would set a minimum income that all Canadians would be eligible to receive, whether they are working, unemployed or unemployable. 

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Spain is moving to establish permanent basic income in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic

Business Insider

Spain is moving to implement a permanent basic income as a measure to help workers and families battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Nadia Calviño, the country's minister for economic affairs, told the Spanish broadcaster La Sexta on Sunday evening that the government was planning to introduce the cash handouts as part of a barrage of policies meant to help people get back on their feet.

She said enacting basic income was "mostly aimed at families, but differentiating between their circumstances."

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Pope Francis says it might be 'time to consider a universal basic wage' in Easter letter

Business Insider

Pope Francis suggested that it might be time for countries to consider a universal basic wage to help ameliorate the worldwide economic disruption to workers caused by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in an Easter letter to leaders of prominent social movements. 

The Pope, who is known for his focus and powerful advocacy on behalf of the world's poorest and most marginalized people, devoted significant portions of both his Easter address at the Vatican and his letter to social movement leaders to highlighting the plight of the working class in this crisis.

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Opportunity in pandemic: P.E.I. group sees the makings of basic income

CBC News

When the federal government unveiled its plan to provide Canadians whose employment has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with a monthly income of $2,000, members of P.E.I.'s Working Group for a Livable Income saw something that looked a lot like what they and others have been trying to bring to P.E.I. for years: a basic guaranteed income.

"It's very close to what we would be advocating for," said Jillian Kilfoil, executive director of Women's Network PEI, one of the members of the working group.

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Aid programs a model for basic income in Canada

Catholic Register

Many of the financial measures being rolled out by governments to help people weather the COVID-19 storm would be unnecessary if Canada had a basic income policy, say basic income advocates.

“At this point, it would be so good if we could have it in the country,” said Sr. Pauline Lally of the Sisters of Providence in Kingston, Ont. “We really need this basic income. I really, really believe that…. It would be one way to end poverty in Canada.”

Lally is a supporter of the Ontario Basic Income Network and a member of Living Wage Kingston. She points to retired Senator Hugh Segal’s recent book, Bootstraps Need Boots: One Tory’s Lonely Fight to End Poverty in Canada, as a guide to how basic income would transform the country.

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Basic Income’s Lessons For Health Care's '$1,007 Sandwich'

Huffington Post

Poverty has long weighed on Hugh Segal’s mind. For decades, the former senator has been a vocal champion for a guaranteed basic income to lift the country’s poorest out of the cycle of poverty. He credits his formative years, growing up in an immigrant family in Montreal’s working-class Plateau neighbourhood, for sowing the seeds of his advocacy.

“What bothers me the most about [poverty] is the amount of people whose lives are being wasted because they’re caught in a scramble of too many jobs, too little pay, insufficient resources to cover rent, food, transport, clothes,” he said, in an interview. “Their kids pay a huge price, and it produces all kinds of difficulties.” 

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