September 18, 2021 – Many Canadians are recognizing the possible benefits of having a Universal Basic Income (UBI). A movement has started and 124 candidates in 108 ridings in this current election have taken the pledge to move this forward.
It’s a simple pledge and very clear.
If elected, I pledge to actively support the establishment of a national basic income for Canada.
Sadly not a single Conservative candidate in Canada has signed on which says a lot about that party’s concern for supporting each link in the chain of our society. Candidates from the Green, Liberal, & NDP have signed on.
CFN asked local Green candidate Jeanie Warnock why she signed up. She responded to a few questions for the voters that read this newspaper.
1) Why is UBI important enough to you to be the only candidate locally who signed the petition?
Let’s not forget that both the Liberals and NDP passed motions supporting UBI at their conventions this past Spring. About 60% of Canadians say they support it when polled.
The UBI has been an essential part of the Green Party platform since I joined about 14 years ago. I remember discussing it and supporting it at one of my first conventions when it was considered a lot more controversial than it is now. It was a pretty exciting idea then—imagine what our society would be like if we essentially eliminated poverty!
2) In your opinion, why is UBI so important to move forward on?
A number of reasons. Off the top, the Covid benefit really underscored just how inadequate our current social assistance payments are and how they are still surrounded by stigma and shaming. Contrast the CERB which was $2000/mth, easy to access, and no shaming or stigma with the $733/mth for a person on Ontario Works, or approximately $1100/mth for a person on ODSP. This difference really reveals how inadequate our social assistance payments still are. We’re seeing the consequences of this in the rise in homelessness across the country and in the homeless camp in Cornwall. So, I believe as a society we have a responsibility to make sure everyone has a certain guaranteed livable income.
Second, a lot of research shows that poverty itself brings a high social and financial cost in terms of more crime and more physical and mental illness and a loss of potential contributions from people locked in an on-going cycle of poverty. So if everyone is guaranteed a certain basic income those other costs will be less of a drain on society. Poverty also has perhaps the biggest impact on children. If you improve the conditions they grow up in, you will improve their long term prospects and lessen the chance that they will need assistance. They will be more likely to get a post-secondary education and fill some of the skilled jobs, IT and engineering particularly, where we have a growing shortage and are bringing in foreign workers.
Finally, I believe the best way to assist someone to find a job or work as a volunteer is not to punish or shame them. It’s to give them enough money and support so that they can remove the road blocks that keep them from getting a job (mental health, training, reskilling, etc).
So, if everyone were guaranteed a livable income, they would have the security to begin to improve their position. They would be able to go back to school, they would be rewarded for working rather than punished, and they would have the security to be more mobile– relocating in areas where the housing is cheaper, or there are more jobs, or there is family support. At the moment, people on ODSP and social assistance are all living so precariously that they can’t really focus on anything other than surviving.
3) How do we pay for UBI and how would it impact our economy?
· We are currently already paying the price for widespread poverty through our medical and criminal justice systems. We can use those savings to help fund UBI.
· The administrative costs of delivering the existing patchwork of means- and age- based programs are substantial and can be eliminated.
· Over 1.2M families already get an average basic income of $680/month through the Canada Child Benefit. Economists concluded that every dollar spent drives $2 of GDP and more than 55 cents of it is recouped in taxes from economic activity. So UBI pays for itself to a large extent.
· There are a number of areas where Canada can increase tax revenues and reduce expenditures to fund UBI. They are a combination of increased levies for use of resources and land; eliminating preferential tax treatment of businesses and wealthy individuals; taxing Internet companies like Facebook and Amazon appropriately and taxing speculative investment in real estate.
CFN thanks Ms Warnock for participating in a stronger democracy and speaking to the viewers of CFN. It’s also odd that the NDP or Liberal candidate for this riding did not sign the pledge which can be viewed here. LINK It includes the names of every candidate that signed the pledge.