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What a Universal Basic Income Would Look Like in Canada

Having been introduced to the world over a century ago, the universal basic income or UBI has gained traction in recent years. 

According to UBI Works, an organization that advocates for implementing UBI in Canada, a universal basic income in Canada would see every adult receive $1,500/month.

The problem with a UBI falls on a few main questions. First, who gets it? Does a rich person really need an additional $500 – $1,500? Or does the UBI only target lower-income individuals? Second, will it be economically feasible? Can the economy handle paying each Canadian adult the money without running into a deficit? And third, will it have been worth it 5 – 10 years into the future? Another question that may need answering is whether people will continue wanting to work? For some, living off $1,500/month is enough, and might choose to be unemployed. Will there be penalties for those who voluntarily stay unemployed? 

According to UBI Works, a UBI is necessary to help Canada’s post-COVID economy recover. They argue that if implemented today, the UBI would create 600,000 jobs over the next five years, bringing in more than $80 billion. However, the cost would be around $199 billion or just around eight per cent of Canada’s GDP. To solve this though, they recommend a three per cent GST increase.Moreover, a universal basic income will help lift newcomer and BIPOC communities out of “persistent inequalities in health, education, and economic security that disproportionately affect BIPOC citizens,” as stated in an article by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship. 

This information is also reiterated by Statistics Canada, which states that “in 2019, about 127,000, or 18.0% of Indigenous peoples aged 16 and older living off-reserve were below the poverty line.” New immigrants also face economic inequality, and the same report tells us that about 411,000 or 17.4 per cent live below the poverty line. A universal basic income would ensure that these people do not fall into deeper economic struggles and would raise their overall quality of life. The CBC reports that a UBI will help individuals pay for rent, bills, tuition and will have an overall positive effect on vulnerable communities.

Other than securing peoples current socioeconomic status, a UBI would also bring money back to the government in the form of taxes. If people have more money than they need for everyday necessities, then they are more likely to spend their excess income. 

For low-income families and communities, a UBI would be a lifesaver. It would address the economic disparity faced by those individuals and would elevate their socioeconomic position in society. It will improve the overall mental health of the greater community and will guarantee their economic security.

However, in a post-COVID world, research will need to be done to see the effects of government payouts during the pandemic on individuals and communities. The research will be to see whether the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and other federal and provincial financial support introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, had a positive effect long term.

– Michael Spivak, U Multicultural

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of U Multicultural.

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