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
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
A newly released report co-authored by a professor at the University of Manitoba is calling on the federal government to guarantee a basic income for Canadians to help the economy recover from COVID-19.
The report recommends the government create a basic income guarantee of $17,000-$19,000, an amount just above the poverty line.
"We are talking about a targeted program," said Evelyn Forget, a community health sciences professor at U of M and coauthor of the report. "That means that somebody with no income would receive the full amount of the benefit. As their income increases, if they were working and earning some money, their benefit would be reduced by the amount they earned."Read more
Christian Science Monitor
Jessie Golem knows the stigma of poverty. She’s been called a leech and parasite. She’s heard more times than she can count, “Go get a job.”
In fact, she always had multiple jobs. But piano lessons, gigs in dog walking, and a budding photography business – a 60-to-80-hour weekly hustle – left her just enough to pay her rent in Hamilton.
It wasn’t until she became part of a pilot program in Ontario, receiving a basic income supplement of $1,400 a month, that her working life finally came together. “It was really awesome watching my photography business grow,” she says. “I drew up a whole business plan and had a financial projection that I would only have needed to be on the basic income pilot for two of the three years.”Read more
A B.C. Green Party would move towards a basic income program, make the province carbon neutral by 2045, and spend more than $10 billion over the next three years on a host of environmental and social election promises.
Green Leader Sonia Furstenau made the promises as part of the party's platform, unveiled Wednesday afternoon, saying it would target people who need help now by building a stronger, more equitable and sustainable province.
"We cannot afford to go back to our old patchwork of social supports that were not meeting the needs of people," said Furstenau.Read more
Among the enormous burdens of fending off the coronavirus pandemic, many countries closed whole sectors of the economy while boosting emergency spending to keep citizens afloat. Now in Canada, momentum is building for another extraordinary measure: a basic income guarantee.
Simply put, it's when residents receive cash from the government, without conditions, to ensure they meet their basic needs.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government has delivered pandemic emergency benefits to millions of unemployed workers since late March and students since May that together totaled more than $60 billion.Read more
By Evelyn Forget
A basic income—a regular, unconditional payment distributed by the government—is an old idea. Thomas More wrote about it during the Renaissance in Utopia, and Thomas Paine preached its merits when the United States was in its infancy. But the idea never gained mainstream acceptance.
Although social scientists had long been testing the effects of a basic income with pilot projects around the world, it was easy to imagine that the governments permitting these experiments hoped that public enthusiasm might die out by the time the results were compiled.
After the 2008 financial crisis, the International Labor Organization, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Health Organization, and, especially, the World Bank showed some interest in a basic income. Never, however, did the idea make the leap from white papers to real-world policy.Read more
This is not the time for austerity,” said Julie Payette, the governor general of Canada, as she read the latest Canadian throne speech on 23 September. “Canadians should not have to take on debt that their government can better shoulder.”
As in the UK, Canada’s Westminster-style parliament opens new sessions with a speech outlining the government’s forthcoming legislative priorities. Attendance this year was strictly limited to a handful of high-ranking officials, with other governing elites watching online as Payette delivered a programme of spending promises designed to help the country withstand the Covid-19 pandemic.Read more