Universal basic income could change more than how we work


Some people see the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) as a load of government debt that will burden future generations. Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has said the benefit pays people not to work, weakening our economy. My personal story of receiving the CERB, and my faith, compel me to think differently.

I was laid off in March, so my activities since then don’t count by traditional economic measures like gross domestic product (GDP).

GDP basically measures how much money is being exchanged. It is often used as a primary indicator of economic and social well-being. The CERB has helped me explore how I can benefit society beyond paid work — endeavours that could be continued if a universal basic income program was implemented after the COVID-19 crisis.

Instead of job-hunting, I planned a day for my neighbours to connect over music at a safe distance. I am also training to volunteer with Storytelling Alberta, sharing stories with seniors over the phone.

Because my partner is still working, the CERB provides more than we need to pay the bills. We have increased our charitable giving to show gratitude for the financial support and care for our community.

With support coming in, I can maintain the savings I have, and go back to school this fall. I have been accepted to a program in therapeutic recreation, so I can help seniors stay happy, healthy and socially connected.

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