By JILL TARSWELL
At the end of February a Liberal MP, Julie Dzerowicz, introduced legislation in the House of Commons that would enable a national strategy for a guaranteed basic income in Canada.
Recent Angus Reid poll results show that three in five Canadians support a universal basic income (UBI).
There are many examples of UBI being successfully trialled with at least one in Canada. In the 1970s the Canadian town of Dauphin, Man. trialled basic income, but due to lack of funding was unable to analyze the results. When researchers looked at the data 25 years later, they discovered the experiment had been a huge success. (https://www.utpjournals.press/doi/pdf/10.3138/cpp.37.3.283)
The hospitalization rate went down by 8.5 per cent in four years, kids performed much better in school, and domestic violence was down, as were mental health complaints. People continued to work, and indeed, open small businesses. Other studies show a phenomenal decrease in drug and alcohol abuse.
According to the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis, a guaranteed minimum income program could grow the economy on average $36 billion per year in the first five years, without relying on debt funding, and if partial and temporary debt funding were to be used, the impact could grow to an average of $62 billion annually in the first five years. In total, this program could lead to a cumulative increase to the national GDP of $1.5 trillion over the next 25 years.
In the past 50 years corporate tax rates have decreased by 50 per cent and are currently almost the lowest they have ever been. In the meantime, workers’ wages have stagnated in relation to inflation, and household debt to income ratios have skyrocketed. As well, the top two per cent of the population control over 60 per cent of Canadian wealth, and over the past three decades taxation of capital and the affluent has shifted to taxes on labour and ordinary working families. Lifting over three million households out of poverty is certainly a worthwhile endeavour.
As the COVID pandemic has increased pressures on Canadians, it is apparent that UBI is a bold, common-sense solution that would ensure that everyone could afford their basic needs, like putting food on the table and a safe place to call home. I urge you to write to government representatives in support of Bill C-273.
The writer is a longtime Salt Spring Island resident.