OTTAWA, FRIDAY, JANUARY 29, 2021—The report of the BC Expert Panel on Basic Income recommends much needed steps toward basic income for Canadians living in poverty but designs them to provide too little and too late.
The report rightly identifies that single, working-aged adults, including single parents, are most likely to be marginalized and left behind due to gaps in federal supports and the indignities and inadequacies of provincial and territorial social assistance and disability support programs. Yet it recommends continuing to slowly tinker with this patchwork of programs that we know, by design, will leave people in need still falling through the cracks.
The report highlights that guaranteed livable basic income is not a stand-alone solution. Certainly, it must work alongside robust social programs and policies to ensure, among other necessities, effective labour standards, accessible and affordable housing, and comprehensive healthcare, education and childcare. This should not devalue the merits of guaranteed livable basic income or any other component of a strong social, health and economic safety net that will create the supportive and mutually beneficial communities outlined by the report.
It appears to be the end of the road for a universal basic income in British Columbia.
A panel appointed by the provincial government in 2018 to examine the idea of a basic income reported today that it would not be the most effective way to improve people’s lives.
Instead, the spirit of basic income should underlie “co-ordinated and substantial” reform of the province’s existing social programs, according to the panel.
Targeted basic incomes should replace some social supports like disability and income assistance, as well as support youth leaving care and women fleeing violence, the report concluded.Read more
As the federal government releases its pre-budget public consultation questionnaire, basic income advocates see an opportunity to provide input on what our government’s economic priorities should be.
“You won’t see basic income in the questionnaire, you have to add it in”, says Sheila Regehr, chair of the Basic Income Canada Network (BICN). “There are several places where ‘other’ can be checked and you can type in basic income and give a reason for supporting the policy at the bottom,” she says.
As well, the government is accepting ‘formal letters and papers’ that can be submitted by simply uploading them.
The concept of a universal basic income in Canada has earned more attention over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). According to a new survey by the Angus Reid Institute, 59% of Canadians support proposals for universal basic income programs at $10,000, $20,000 and $30,000 annual income.
The highest amount of support comes from Quebec (66%) and the Atlantic provinces (65%), while the lowest level of support comes from Alberta (42%), the only province with more support against a universal basic income program than for one. Both Liberal (78%) and NDP (84%) voters are overwhelmingly in favour of basic income. Conservative support for the program is roughly one in four, at 26%.Read more
The P.E.I. Working Group for a Livable Income is excited to congratulate the legislative assembly of P.E.I. for endorsing the final report of the special committee on poverty on P.E.I., which recommends a basic income guarantee for P.E.I.
The report provides a fully costed, workable and achievable model for a basic income guarantee that could eliminate poverty in P.E.I. It was a groundbreaking day for P.E.I. and Canada when this important report was adopted, and the time to act on the report is now!
We write today to urge the P.E.I. government to begin immediately to negotiate with the federal government for the launch of a permanent basic income guarantee in P.E.I., as recommended in the report.
The Prince Edward Island Working Group for a Livable Income has been advocating since 2013 for P.E.I. to launch a provincewide program for a basic income guarantee: one that can be scaled up to include all of Canada.Read more
The Star - Sheila Regehr
The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit CERB put cash in people’s hands, quickly, when COVID-19 hit. It was a smart and remarkable achievement. It looked like the beginnings of a basic income — but it wasn’t quite. It left out people who needed it. It got complicated with conditions, changes, interactions with other emergency benefits, and with provincial and territorial regimes. It confused applicants and recipients as their circumstances changed.
Now, CERB repayment demands are causing hardship, and while amnesty is needed that’s only a temporary reprieve, for some. The pandemic’s viral and economic toll is still rising.Read more
As the COVID-19 pandemic persists across Canada, millions of people have lost their jobs or had their work hours cut, exposing the economic insecurity with which Canadian families were already living.
Before the pandemic, half of Canadians were already struggling from paycheque to paycheque with little left over for savings, and household debt was at a record high. Few had enough set aside to pay the rent or put food on the table for even a short period of time. This situation wasn't caused by COVID-19; it reflects changes that have been ongoing for decades. More than a third of the workforce was working in precarious employment -- on contract, in temporary jobs, self-employed or working part-time when they would have preferred full-time work.
The economic shutdown that happened in March of this year revealed the inequality and economic insecurity people were already living with, and it has forced us to acknowledge the limitations of our existing social safety net. People displaced from their usual employment turned to employment insurance and learned that fewer than 40 per cent of them qualified for any support. Those who did qualify received payments too little even to pay the rent.Read more
Giving people direct, recurring cash payments, no questions asked, is a simple idea — and an old one. Different formulations of a guaranteed income have been promoted by civil rights leaders, conservative thinkers, labor experts, Silicon Valley types, U.S. presidential candidates and even the Pope. Now, it’s U.S. cities that are putting the concept in action.
Fueled by a growing group of city leaders, philanthropists and nonprofit organizations, 2021 will see an explosion of guaranteed income pilot programs in U.S. cities. At least 11 direct-cash experiments will be in effect this year, from Pittsburgh to Compton.Read more
A basic income program could have saved lives and reduced COVID-19 transmission when the pandemic struck last spring, says one of the country’s leading experts.
And basic income, as both a health and a poverty reduction policy, could still help people weather the second wave and those to come, said Evelyn Forget.
“When government decided that it was a public health emergency response and they closed down the economy in March,” said Forget in an interview, “they knew immediately that the social programs wouldn’t work, and that we had to put emergency supports in place if we were going to keep people home.”Read more
At the beginning of December, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he could see no path forward for a guaranteed basic income right now. For the sake of Canadians everywhere, he should spend some more time looking.
Many working Canadians are struggling in the current labour market. Globalization, rapid technological change and the gig economy have changed the nature of the labour market.
People no longer spend the majority of their career working for one company; many jobs limit the number of hours an employee can work to avoid providing them with benefits; and jobs in the gig economy (for example, Uber drivers, food delivery drivers, renting out your home via Airbnb, and selling services or products through the internet) carry no benefits at all.Read more