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Canadians Asked for an Emergency Basic Income, and Our Leaders Responded.

April 2020

What if $2,000/month was always your guaranteed basic income?

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On March 25th, Trudeau announced an emergency basic income of $2,000/month over the next 4 months for Canadians who lost income as a result of the crisis. The difference between this program and the list of government supports that were initially announced last week is clear evidence that the 30,000 people who signed our petition across all 338 ridings made a difference. The new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is a single, unified program for nearly all Canadians whose incomes were affected by this crisis. It is designed to be simple, fast and streamlined – all features we asked for.

This was in no small part because in the intervening week, every MP in the country was receiving daily emails from advocates, telling them that the scaled up, ad hoc, existing programs simply were not enough to cover the immediate needs of Canadians. That is why even those workers who are waiting for an EI application to be processed are going to be switched over to the CERB. Despite calls for one time payments, our argument for the security of a recurring payment prevailed – putting to rest the fear that the bills won’t be paid next month.  

Because of our supporters, the government realized this week that the basic income model is the quickest most efficient way to get cash into the hands of Canadians who need it.

For details of the program, including who qualifies, please read the government’s announcement here and check the Canada Revenue Agency website in the coming days.

This is not the unconditional basic income that we asked for. The CERB on its own is not an economic stimulus that will help in our country’s economic recovery. We still do not know the precise conditions of the program, how accessible it will be, or how it will function. As such, we will await the details of the program to determine how we can best advocate for the many Canadians that still need help right now.

The CERB is only designed to support working Canadians who saw their income fall because of the pandemic. It is likely that even the broad definitions of the conditions will still exclude some Canadians and we will continue to work, with your help, to ensure every Canadian is supported in this troubling time.

The other steps that the government has taken, including increasing the Canada Child Benefit and GST Credit, as well as additional programs for vulnerable populations is a step in the right direction. But imagine if these programs weren’t needed…

What if the CERB did not end in 4 months?

    In 1944, the government introduced the Family Allowance as a temporary measure. 76 years later we still have it (renamed: Canada Child Benefit), and it has been shown to grow our economy, create jobs, and lift Canadians out of poverty. In 2020, the government introduced the CERB as a temporary measure. Together we can ensure this too isn’t temporary.

What if everyone received it?

  • It would actually stimulate the economy. People who weren’t able to spend before would now be able to, generating additional economic activity and supporting businesses everywhere.
  • We would ensure that no Canadian would fall through the cracks, allowing us to eradicate poverty, improve health outcomes, and minimize the burden on our healthcare system.
  • Every Canadian would be granted the freedom to plan long-term and to become more active members of their communities, whether they choose to start a business, pursue education, volunteer, start a family, or look after a loved one.

What if you already had it?

    We wouldn’t have seen weeks of bickering and stalled negotiations in our government. We would have received help immediately. The effects on business and families wouldn’t have been nearly as bad.

Our pledge is to continue to work to make these possibilities a reality. In the coming weeks and months, we will need all the help we can get to make that so. Please share the video above on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter. Join our social media group at UBI Workers.

Together we can make sure every Canadian is prepared to meet the challenges of the coming months and years.

UBI Works is a Canadian non-profit organization with the goal of making Universal Basic Income a permanent reality for all Canadians.

On March 16, 2020, UBI Works launched a petition calling for an Emergency UBI in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The petition garnered over 30,000 signatures across all 338 federal ridings, with each signer emailing their Member of Parliament to call for a UBI.

The Government of Canada responded by announcing the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), a short-term basic income for Canadians who lost income due to COVID-19, in addition to a one-time GST credit of $400 per individual ($600 per couple) for low-and moderate-income Canadians, as well as a $300 boost to the Canada Child Benefit basic income.

This pandemic showed us that Canadians need a Universal Basic Income.

We are aware that these measures, while they help many Canadians, still leave many others out. From day one, the CERB left out more than 850,000 Canadians, 1/3 of the unemployed, who had no income support from either EI or the CERB. The government expanded the eligibility criteria after weeks of constant pressure from Canadians to move towards a universal basic income. This pandemic has shown us that Canadians are not resilient enough in a time of crisis. Many of us who lost work from this crisis may find ourselves not hired back, or going back to lower paying work. An estimated 15% of the over 15 million working Canadians—more than 2 million Canadians in total—will soon find themselves without work. Yet, research shows that 42% of the Canadian workforce is at high risk of being automated away—using existing technology—over the next 10-20 years. If we already had a universal basic income, no Canadian would have fallen through the cracks during this crisis. Millions of Canadians would not have needed to wait weeks, perhaps months, before getting the help they needed.

In 2018, UBI Works led a group of over 120 Canadian CEOs, representing over $2.3 billion in annual revenue, to sign a statement in support of basic income

UBI Works is committed to pursuing a universal and unconditional basic income for all Canadians, so that nobody will be left behind.

Join our mailing list and stay up-to-date on how we are working to make Universal BasicIncome a reality in Canada.

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