A special all-party committee of the P.E.I. legislature is urging the provincial government to begin "immediate negotiations" with the federal government seeking support for a universal basic income guarantee for the province.
But such a program would come with a significant price tag, estimated at $260 million per year — almost $100 million more than the current budget for the entire P.E.I. Department of Social Development and Housing.
Providing all Prince Edward Islanders with access to a guaranteed basic income would "ensure every Islander, no matter their circumstance, can live with basic health and dignity," MLA Trish Altass told the legislature Tuesday.
Altass served as chair of the Special Committee on Poverty in P.E.I., which has held 24 meetings since Sept. 2019, canvassing local advocacy groups and national experts on how to measure and address poverty in the province, and on how to set up parameters for a basic guaranteed income.
In 2016, members of the previous legislative assembly provided unanimous support for a Green motion calling on the federal government to support a basic income pilot project on P.E.I.
Since that time, the idea has been picked up by politicians of different political stripes at every level of government. But this report marks the first time anyone has laid out how a guaranteed income might work, and what a program might cost.
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