People with disabilities deserve a basic income

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.

Critics of basic income have watched their debating points topple one by one before mounting evidence. It costs too much? No less an authority than the Parliamentary Budget Officer showed that Canada has the resources to pay for a well-designed basic income during normal times and, even during the pandemic, a basic income would cost less than the alternatives.

It’s bad for women? For Indigenous people? Not according to the Report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women that called for a guaranteed livable income for all Canadians, or the coalition of 4,000 organizations and individuals who have called for a basic income to address gender inequity.

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