The pandemic has re-animated the discussion of a guaranteed liveable income in Canada. The goals of any guaranteed income program are to provide for the basic needs of households and families, to consolidate the hodge-podge of income support programs that exist, to simplify access to and delivery of income support, and to avoid the need for ad hoc programs in times like these.
This is not a new idea. For decades, former Conservative Senator Hugh Segal advocated for a Canadian guaranteed basic income. In the 1970s the NDP government of Manitoba launched a pilot project. More recently, the Ontario Liberal government created a test in several Ontario communities. Unfortunately, both pilots ended prematurely when governments changed.
In Canada, a new window of opportunity has opened to allow us to make real progress in establishing the viability of a guaranteed liveable income. The legislature of Prince Edward Island has found all-party agreement in support of the idea of a guaranteed liveable income. The legislature has committed to establishing a new pilot project, in concert with the federal government, to experience and test the concept. All that remains is for the federal government to offer its support. Because all-party agreement has been established in P.E.I., even if government should change, the project will continue and we will have our first real experience of a basic income program in Canada.
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