A few days ago, the Canadian province of Ontario made an announcement that post-graduate tuition will now be free for students who come from low income families. Now, the province is prepping for an even more impressive experiment: to pay all of its citizens an amount every single month to cover basic expenses. The idea continues to gain popularity, and the basic income trial is included within Ontario’s 2017-2018 budget and will be introduced at the beginning of the year.
We’ve seen similiar trends around the world, with Finland and the Netherlands also considering supporting their citizens in this way. Finland intends to roll out a basic income plan later this year, and the Dutch city of Utrecht launched an experiment with the same concept in January. The Swiss also plan to vote in a referendum in June to decide if they want to go ahead with the proposed move.
Fortunately for the rest of Canada, Ontario is not the only province mulling over the idea; a federal MP in Canada’s capital of Ottawa is pushing for more government research on the subject of basic income, hoping to see every Canadian afforded this kind of economic security. The mayors of Calgary and Edmonton both advocate the program, and Manitoba Liberals are promising their own trial if they win the provincial election. As CBC News explains:
Basic income is capturing political imaginations in Canada. Also known as guaranteed minimum income, universal income, guaranteed annual income, or a negative income tax, basic income is a social policy that would supplant various welfare programs by providing a baseline amount of money to all citizens, regardless of whether they work or meet a means test.
Not many details have been released thus far, but it seems that if the plan rolls out, a cheque would be provided to everybody, regardless of income, offering the impoverished a much-needed lifeline and the recently unemployed a welcome safety net.
This concept has the potential to help out a lot of people. It wouldn’t eliminate poverty, but it would, as The Huffington Post explains, “streamline government bureaucracies, as a basic income would replace many other benefits, potentially including welfare, unemployment insurance, Old Age Security and others.”
Critics of the proposal argue this would create a disincentive to work, but we at CE are far more optimistic.
What It’s Like Living In Today’s World
I currently live in Ontario, and as with most other cities around the world, it’s not easy. If a person wants to own a small home, they have to be making at least 200,000 dollars a year, yet the median total income in Canada in 2013 was only 32,000 dollars. This is just barely enough to house, food, and clothe oneself.
The current allocation of the world’s wealth is undeniably ridiculous; a small group of people and the corporations they run own the vast majority of resources and wealth, which is why programs like this could really benefit the many people who need it.
I often think about how absurd it is to live on a planet where you can die if you are unable to pay for your life. Having worked in this field for a number of years now, I believe solutions are readily available; life doesn’t have to be this way. There are better ways to do things here, and providing all citizens with a basic income, whether they are currently earning or not, is a fantastic place to start. Freed from the stress of wondering where one’s next meal will come from, people receiving a basic income would have the opportunity to focus on finding meaningful employment and spending time with their families.
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