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Guaranteed basic income emerges as top policy priority for Liberals

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A guaranteed basic income for all Canadians has emerged as the top policy choice of Liberal MPs, just as the Trudeau government is crafting its plan to help people weather the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild the ravaged economy.


The Liberal caucus is calling on the government to adopt the idea in a priority policy resolution for consideration at the party's upcoming national convention.


And MPs consider it so important that they've designated it their top resolution, guaranteeing that it will go directly to the Nov. 12-15 convention for debate and a vote.



The pressure for an overhaul of Canada's social safety net comes just as the Liberal government is preparing for a throne speech on Sept. 23 laying out its plan for protecting Canadians during the pandemic, which is heating up again after a bit of a summer lull, and for reviving the economy.


The pandemic has exposed holes in Canada's social safety net, particularly the employment insurance program that proved incapable of helping the millions of Canadians left abruptly without incomes when businesses were shuttered in March to help curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus that causes COVID-19.


This is great news, and I hope they do more than just a few pilot projects that inevitably get cancelled by successive governments.

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The trials in Canada have been successful (in the sense that the only groups that stopped working were students and recent mothers), but there is still the overall question of how much to pay.


One of the arguments in favour of UBI is that you can then get rid of the other social benefits...but that's not true at all. If you set UBI at $1,000/mo or something and someone on some combination of EI, disability, or other support is receiving $2,000/mo...what happens to them? Either the UBI needs to be high enough to be above the poverty line, or there needs to be additional systems for those in other circumstances (like those who are unable to work for reasons of disability, old age, etc).


So I do support UBI, but not getting rid of other programs. In fact, I think that UBI should be more like a cost-of-living allowance that is set per region. Someone in Toronto or Vancouver should be getting a higher amount than someone in Red Deer or Saskatoon.

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