To bolster health, would basic income — not pharmacare — make more sense?

Andre Picard - Globe and Mail

“Millions of Canadians have to choose between paying for groceries or their prescription medications,” Hassan Yussuf, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, wrote in a recent commentary.

That is one of the most frequently cited reasons for national pharmacare by proponents of a sweeping domestic plan.

First of all, that claim is questionable. It is based on polling data that show 23 per cent of those surveyed said they had experienced difficulty paying for prescriptions. Another study found that 731,000 Canadians borrowed money to pay for their prescription drugs, and some were cutting back on necessities as a result.

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Why the world should embrace basic income

Notable reprint

Globe and Mail

Annie Lowrey is a contributing editor for The Atlantic and author of Give People Money: How a Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World.

Last year, Ontario started distributing cash to thousands of lower-income adults, no strings attached. The recipients did not need to meet any conditions, save for not earning much and having lived in one of five target areas, including Hamilton, Brantford and Thunder Bay, for more than a year. They were free to use the money the government was sending them however they saw fit, whether spending it on groceries and other necessities, saving it for retirement or a degree, or frittering it away. “Our goal is clear,” said Kathleen Wynne, Ontario’s then-premier, kicking offthe effort. “We want to find out whether a basic income makes a positive difference in people’s lives.”

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Why we should all have a basic income

Notable reprint

World Economic Forum

Consider for a moment that from this day forward, on the first day of every month, around $1,000 is deposited into your bank account – because you are a citizen. This income is independent of every other source of income and guarantees you a monthly starting salary above the poverty line for the rest of your life.

What do you do? Possibly of more importance, what don’t you do? How does this firm foundation of economic security and positive freedom affect your present and future decisions, from the work you choose to the relationships you maintain, to the risks you take?

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PC Government promises social assistance pilot project

CBC News

P.E.I.'s new Progressive Conservative minority government says it wants to introduce a new social assistance pilot program within the next six months.

Among the many priorities outlined's in Friday's Throne Speech was a commitment to implement a Secure Income Program Pilot. 

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Sheffield council backs universal basic income trial

The Guardian

Sheffield has moved closer to becoming one of the first UK cities to trial universal basic income after the council formally lent its support to the idea.

Last month, the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, confirmed a Labour government would pilot UBI if it won a general election, identifying Liverpool and Sheffield as potential areas for pilot schemes.

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Feds urged to consider basic income to help 'gig' workers

CTV News

A cross-party committee of MPs says it's time for the government to take a deeper look at a guaranteed minimum income to help workers caught in the tectonic shifts of the "gig economy."

The MPs' report on declines in traditional, full-time employment in favour of short-term contract work says the government needs to explore new types of income supports "that do not depend upon someone having a job."

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Basic income’s experimental wave is over: Time for policies

BIEN

The wave of basic income experiments in the last two years was a positive development in giving Universal Basic Income (UBI) some level of attention and political legitimacy in Western countries.

It is time to recognize the experimental wave is coming to an end.

Basic income activists in the next wave of UBI political discussions should push for policy changes in the direction of basic income. There are ongoing and completed trials testing cash transfers in countries with different stages of economic development. It makes more sense to build a foundation for policy changes as these results trickle out over the next few years rather than pushing for yet another experiment.

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