To effectively combat poverty, Canada is taking baby steps towards implementing a basic income programme. Sen. Kim Pate’s proposal for a federal framework for a universal basic income scheme is being examined by the Senate’s National Finance Committee as of October 17.
Canada has toyed with the idea of a basic income programme since the 1970s.
The need for a basic income programme intensified during and after the COVID-19 epidemic, as the potential of a long-term income programme was highlighted by the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which provided $2,000 a month to millions of Canadians.
Here’s an explanation of guaranteed basic income, how it functions, and what it may look like now that the federal government is moving towards researching it as a viable option.
What Is Universal Basic Income?
Everyone would receive a government payment known as a universal basic income (UBI), regardless of their degree of income or level of need.
According to Michael Mendelson, a fellow of the poverty policy think tank Maytree, the majority of contemporary ideas of UBI no longer adhere to its literal definition, as reported by the Star.
Today, “UBI” refers to any basic income programme, whether universal or a “guaranteed” income programme, that scales based on an individual’s needs.
A guaranteed “livable basic income” is proposed by the Senate bill for all adults in Canada over the age of 17, including temporary employees, long-term residents, and asylum seekers.
Existing health or disability benefits would not be eliminated or reduced by the basic income concept that has been proposed.
When Was The Last Time Canada Tried A Universal Basic Income Proposal?
Although a national basic income programme has yet to be formally adopted, regional administrations have experimented with providing cash to individuals without any conditions.
In the province of Manitoba, a guaranteed basic income experiment was supported by the government from 1974 to 1979, but Dauphine received the most attention.
There, the “Mincome” programme ensured a minimum income for each household, which meant that even if no one worked, they would still get the maximum amount from the government at a reduced rate for each dollar they earned.
The term “income,” as it was known, was eligible for about 30% of the town’s residents.
According to a recent study from 2018, more kids stayed in school longer, and hospitalisations, notably for mental health difficulties, decreased throughout the Dauphine experiment.
Ontario began a basic income trial programme in Hamilton, Thunder Bay, and Lindsay in 2017 under the leadership of then-premier Kathleen Wynne.
The project was designed to provide up to $17,000 per year to 4,000 low-income individuals in the target region over three years.
However, the pilot programme was discontinued once Premier Doug Ford assumed office after a resounding victory in the 2018 election.
Beginning in 2023, Quebec’s basic income programme will be implemented. For Quebec residents with a “severely limited capacity for employment,” the province will pay a base amount of $1,211 per month.
Those who receive the benefit can earn up to $14,532 per year without having their benefits cut.
How Much Would A Basic Income Programme Cost?
The guaranteed basic income programme would cost the federal government $85 billion, according to estimates made by Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux in April 2021.
Still, it would reduce poverty rates by half by giving low-income households roughly $17,000 annually.
Can Canada Implement A Basic Income Programme?
According to Mendelson, if CERB or any other basic income pilot programmes have taught us anything, Canada has the “administrative capacity” to implement a basic income programme.
Mendelson noted that the government should do more than rewrite CERB.
The main topic of discussion around basic income policies is “how to best address poverty in a sustainable way that’s most effective at reaching people who need it.”
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