Winnipeg Free Press
These days no one should need convincing that our economic well-being can be affected by unexpected shocks.
Sometimes these shocks are due to big events, such as the coronavirus pandemic or the great recession in 2008. Sometimes they are due to changes in personal circumstances, such as illness, job loss or the death of a provider.
Individuals can try to plan, but many Canadians are financially strapped at the best of times and do not have the financial margin necessary to support strategies for weathering economic shocks.
After all, as of 2017, the latest year for which data are available, 5,869,110 Canadians lived in poverty (census family low-income measure, after tax).
Statistics Canada also reported that in the third quarter of 2019, on average, there was $1.76 in credit-market debt for every dollar of household disposable income. Similarly, a September 2019 Ipsos poll found that 48 per cent of Canadians are $200 or less away from financial insolvency.
When shocks such as the coronavirus pandemic cause economic activity to slow down and large numbers of Canadians are affected by job losses, layoffs, fewer available shifts and loss of customers for the self-employed, there is a broad consensus that governments must act to shore up household incomes.
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