Pros and cons of universal basic income

加拿大联邦政府的紧急救济金计划将于本月结束。在本周之前,特鲁多(Justin Trudeau)及其自由党议员暗示加拿大需要在Covid-19疫情后推行雄心勃勃的福利项目,并采用全民基本收入代替紧急救济金。
The Canadian Federal Government's Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program is supposedly coming to an end this month. Prior to this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal MP's hinted at the need for Canada to pursue an ambitious social agenda post-pandemic and suggested a universal basic income (UBI) to replace CERB.


The Throne Speech on September 23 promised to expand supports for struggling businesses and to extend the wage subsidy program until next summer, with no details given at the time. It was claimed that the wage subsidy extension forms part of the government's vow to create a million jobs, which would restore employment to pre-pandemic levels. Many people feel that this is yet another ploy to extend the CERB to buy votes from those participating in the program for an upcoming election. About 8.75 million Canadians have applied for CERB.
This proposed universal basic income (UBI) will replace or top-up social supports for targeted low-income groups, like those on welfare or disability. To help finance the idea, a list of programs such as the disability tax credit, the caregiver tax credit and “social assistance” will be eliminated.

UBI is not something entirely new in Canada. There are at least two Canadian provincial cases over the last 50 years. The first one happened in Manitoba when piloted a project back in the 1970s in the city of Dauphin and other rural communities. the Progressive Conservatives axed the program when they came to power in the province. The program was considered a success 30 years later when an economist wrote a report using the collected data and census information. It was subsequently determined that “basic income has an overall positive impact on recipients.”
2016年,安大略省也开始尝试全民基本收入。这一切始于当时安省自由党省长韦恩。她委任前自由党省长戴维斯的省长办公室主任西格尔就全民基本收入进行研究。该研究着眼于“基本收入能否更好地支持拿低工资的人,并为人们挖掘自己的潜力提供所需的生活保障和机会。” 西格尔还研究了基本收入是否“可以为向低收入人群提供一种更简单,更经济有效的福利。”
In 2016, a similar scenario played out in the province of Ontario. It all started when then Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government appointed former Bill Davis chief of staff Hugh Segal to conduct a study on basic income. The study looked at “whether a basic income can better support vulnerable workers and give people the security and opportunity they need to achieve their potential.” Segal’s study also looked at whether a basic income “can be a simpler and more economically effective way to provide income security support to people living on low incomes.”
Segal’s 2016 report found that a basic income dispersed to low-income Ontarians who need it would help reduce poverty, whereas social support programs like “Ontario Works” and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) were only alleviating the symptoms of poverty. A three-year pilot project was recommended and four thousand participants were selected randomly for the program in Hamilton, Brantford and Brant County, Thunder Bay, and Lindsay.

参与试点的单身人士每年最多可获得$ 16,989(如果有其他收入,50%的其他收入会从基本收入里扣除)。参与试点的夫妇最多可获得$ 24,027(如果有其他收入,50%的其他收入会从基本收入里扣除)。残疾人每年还可获得额外的$ 6,000。安省进行该试点项目的总投资约为5,000万元。
Single people in the pilot received $16,989 per year (less 50 percent of any earned income). Couples involved in the pilot received up to $24,027 (also less 50 percent of any earned income). People with disabilities were given an additional $6,000 per year. The province’s total investment in the pilot program amounted to some $50 million.
Participants reported spending their income on better food, staying in school, improving their housing situation and, in some cases, starting a small business. They also reported being more financially independent. Nevertheless, Premier Doug Ford pulled the plug on that experiment, breaking an election promise to maintain the program. The government claimed people were dropping out of the program.

So, would a universal basic income program cost more than current social programs?
A universal basic income program implemented on top of current support programs in addition to investments in affordable housing, childcare and pharmacare (to name a few) would cost more. It is therefore necessary to “trim” out many of these programs and concentrate the money on the UBI instead.
Before we look at the Pros and Cons of the UBI, we need to examine the CERB program first as many consider it to be a sort of pilot UBI program disbursing monthly funds during the COVID-19 days of 2020. We will continue with this discussion next time.

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