Last Updated: September 23, 2020
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On Sept 23rd the federal government announced its priorities in the Throne Speech as the country enters a second phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. The speech included numerous new announcements to tweak and expand the social safety net, prioritizing employment insurance and direct supports for businesses - but no mention of a basic income.
This pandemic has laid plain the many shortcomings and gaps in Canada’s social safety net. Millions of Canadians are now without employment income, and many who were recently laid off will never go back to their job. Employers are increasingly turning towards technology and automation as an alternative to Canadian workers, because it’s cheaper and more efficient.
Without major economic reforms that establish a minimum floor upon which Canadians can build their incomes, the current recession will produce the same results as previous recessions: fewer middle-class, more low-pay jobs, and a lower standard of living.
CERB and other emergency benefits demonstrated that direct cash payments were the most efficient and effective way of supporting Canadians and stimulating the economy from the bottom up. The Canada Child Benefit demonstrated that unconditional cash supports are sustainable, and that they grow the economy and create jobs. However, it appears from the throne speech that the government will ignore this lesson in favour of old solutions like employment insurance and top-down supports for business.
As a result, millions of Canadians will be left worse off.
While the many band aid solutions announced in the throne speech are certainly steps in the right direction, they do not come close to addressing the needs that Canadians are currently experiencing or reaching those who are being left behind. We therefore urge the government to live up to its rhetoric and establish a universal basic income for a faster, fairer recovery.
Many Canadians had hoped that our elected leaders would recognize the urgency of universal basic income and make it a priority. Despite majority support for UBI and a swell of national coverage in recent weeks, our government has once again ignored this important policy tool.
But there is hope. There is still an opportunity for the will of the Canadian people and the demonstrated nationwide support for universal basic income to be reflected in new legislation in the days and the weeks ahead of us.
Sign the petition of Recovery UBI and let your Member of Parliament know that there is a fairer and faster way to achieve an economic recovery and keep Canadians safe.
To shift the conversation about basic income to recognize it as an economic need and economic opportunity, with the goal of seeing UBI implemented in Canada.
We want a Canada where everyone can pursue their potential and not be held back by basic material constraints or unsafe environments.
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