COVID 19: Time to Try Out a Basic Income Guarantee?

The Pearson Centre report “Future of Work Policies for the 2020’s” proposes a means of making income transfers between governments and citizens more effective and flexible. Now could be a good time to give it a try.

 The report suggests that payments – such as child benefits, hst credits,  other tax credits, employment insurance, OAS, GIS, CPP, social assistance, disability payments – be carried out by CRA. They have the machinery to do so, as well as the ability to permit provincial governments to do their own assessments for measures such as social assistance. 

The proposal suggested that these Integrated Personal Accounts should be readily accessible to people online, much like our online bank accounts. Besides a list of benefits available, based on the person’s tax return and updated information, would be a historical accounting of the taxes paid (including estimates of sales and property taxes) and benefits received, including prorated estimates of the value of universal services such as medicare and education. We would know a lot more about our relationship with government.

Moreover, at a time like now, money could be sent out quickly, either in broad swaths, or highly targeted.  Federal and provincial governments could maintain their respective authority, but use the same paymaster. 

The Basic Income Canada Network (BICN) recommends that Canada immediately implement a basic income program. It would guarantee people an adequate income and keep money flowing in the economy when it is really needed. Using the Canada Child Benefit and HST credit as a data foundation, it would be relative easy to implement. People would get money to spend and support jobs. A bureaucratic morass of trying to figure out eligibility for EI or other special benefits could be avoided. 

Seems like this would be a good time to test drive the concept. The Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy report can be found at http://www.thepearsoncentre.ca     

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