When Canadians head to the polls on October 21, they should ask themselves how Canada’s political parties will tackle inequality.
Over the past two decades, the richest Canadians have seen their share of income go up and up. The top one per cent absorbed almost a third of all income growth between 1997 and 2007, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
Meanwhile, one in seven people in Canada lives in poverty — which hurts everyone, because poverty is expensive. In 2008, for instance, the cost of failing to address poverty in Ontario – including everything from health care and criminal justice system costs to lost tax revenue – was estimated to be 10 to 16 per cent of the province’s budget. That’s around $2,000 to $3,000 per household per year.
It’s time to consider a guaranteed livable income.
Unlike the current support offered by social assistance, a guaranteed livable income would not impose strict eligibility criteria, require recipients to work or get clawed back if recipients were to exceed a particular financial threshold.
The current social assistance model makes people dependent on that assistance; a person can essentially be punished for even limited financial success through a corresponding reduction of benefits.
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