Guaranteed livable income a possibility for P.E.I., premier says

Teresa Wright
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Prince Edward Island Premier Robert Ghiz

Premier Robert Ghiz says he is looking at the possibility of a guaranteed livable income project in Prince Edward Island.

“It is something that we’re currently discussing right now, exactly how it would work,” Ghiz said Thursday.

“We do now know that we have the social assistance system, which was once called a welfare system, which then adapted into the social assistance system. Is the next gradual step to have a guaranteed livable income? That is something that will be explored.”

The issue was raised in the provincial legislature Thursday when Independent MLA Olive Crane raised concern over a growing number of Islanders, especially senior citizens, who are finding it hard to meet their basic needs.

She pointed to a pilot project in Dauphin, Manitoba, in the 1970s where, for four years, families who lived below the poverty line were granted a guaranteed minimum income by the federal and provincial governments.

“It’s more and more difficult for people who are on modest incomes to survive,” Crane said.

“I truly believe we have to look at a long-term solution … I’d like to see a group come together made up of both government and stakeholders in the private sector to sit down and have a dialogue of what a pilot would look like.”

Ghiz said he believes it’s an idea worth exploring.

He pointed to a resolution at the federal Liberal convention in February that endorsed a basic annual income project.

He suggested if federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is elected prime minister in the 2015 federal election, a pilot in P.E.I. could become a greater possibility.

“It’s something that we know they’re interested in, so if they are, there should be dollars on the table. We know that the current government is not (interested) that I know of, so that’s what happens when there’s new governments around,” Ghiz said.

“It’s, in my opinion, something that’s worth exploring. You want to make sure that you look after your neighbours and those people who need help in our society.”

Ghiz did not offer a price tag or any other details of how such a program would work, but he did clarify that a guaranteed livable income would not mean everyone would get a salary from government.

“If you’re still capable of working, you’re not going to qualify for a guaranteed livable income if there’s a job available to you, it’s for those people in our society that need help.”

Crane asked Ghiz to put together a working group tobegin work now on putting together a plan of action and prepare for the possibility of future federal buy-in.

But Ghiz said the current discussions are on an ad hoc basis and any formal work would be done closer to the next federal election.

“We’re always looking at evolving our system. So this has been an idea that’s been floating now for the last little bit amongst some advocates in the province,” Ghiz said.

“I’m not against it, so therefore it’s worth exploring.”

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Dauphin, Manitoba

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Recent comments

  • Jay
    April 08, 2014 - 09:19

    What are we doing to help students who don't qualify for unemployment benefits? Who can't find any type of job in any industry, and are stuck living with a loved one who has no other choice but to support these unfortunate souls.

  • PEI RESIDANT
    April 06, 2014 - 02:31

    Rich I have to like your comment Well you had to get up everyday to go to school to get an education .You have a job im sure you must of been a Good employer to keep your job You did say in your comment not directed at seniors or those with extreme disabilities and thats fair Im sure you are talking about the people that are trying to do nothing and get paid to stay home and not better themselves I totally agree with you I worked every job I could to keep my family And why should we pay for someone that doesnt want to do anything and complain about not getting enough from welfare come on people Thats life !! Its time you take some responsibility and go to work there is alot that are capable of working but choose not to !

  • PEI RESIDANT
    April 06, 2014 - 02:19

    The jobs on this Island if your lucky to get one the wages hasnt changed for 25 yrs the cost of living and the wages dont match its sad People are finding it more difficult all the time to make ends meet .What are we going to do Work everyday of the week because a 40hr week dont cut it Mr Ghiz please do something for the seniors that worked all their lives and have to struggle with the Pension they get.Also the people that are working and getting almost no wages and still taxed to death what is low income ?? must be alot of people on this Island because we are sure struggling we dont want to leave our home province but not much of a choice !!PLEASE HELP US so we can live without so much stress !

  • Rich
    April 04, 2014 - 22:53

    The working class is taxed to death and most are paying back, or have paid back, student loans. Why do we have to fit the bill for those who refuse to work? Young people having 3-4 kids with no job or education and expect the world to take care of them...it's pathetic. Because I put myself through school and earned a decent job, I now have to pay for those who refuse to contribute to society...BS. (This comment is not directed at seniors or those with extreme disabilities).

    • good for you Rich
      April 05, 2014 - 16:22

      That fine for you Rich , I hope you continue to do so .but you never know what life throws you. Im educated. I had a goverment job .but could never get full time for benifits .I got sick and cannot work .you know, you cant judge people .and as far as people having 3 -4 kids those things happen .but those kids are going to grow up so supports are for the kids maybe they will be independent educated etc and they too will pay taxes . .we cant predict life . we all have our turn . Some people they need help for short times and can return to being tax payers in turn so that someone else msy need help .so you cant count sometimes how life is going to be .I dont think there are too many that want to make social programs a way if life . For some they find it harder have problems with performance , or limitations employers are not always accomodating .Even if you are educated . You are very judgemental and if your lucky enough that you go though your whole life without any problems then you are blessed . It nice to know there is support system in place if you should need it esp since you pay taxes .I did for 26 years pay taxes as a single person .with the many job cuts such as vetrens affairs .service canada .and canada post I would say those individuals thought as you do and had stability so you cant count in it .

  • Trevor Leclerc
    April 04, 2014 - 18:25

    Mr Ghiz finally took note of what Joe Byrne (the NDP federal council representative) andMike Redmond (the NDP PEI leader) urged at their press conference months ago suggesting this very same idea. NDP ideas ARE good ideas. So good, now Mr Ghiz wants to take credit for it. Let us not forget it was Pierre Trudeau's gov't that SHUT DOWN the Dauphin, Manitoba, project and blocked access to the research material.

  • Garth Staples
    April 04, 2014 - 17:58

    of course Ghiz tried to politicise the idea. Trudeau as the father? Possible but not probable. He would have to become PM first!

  • Angie.
    April 04, 2014 - 10:53

    I am 59, work for a living, make $10 an hour for 35 hrs. Could you, govt officials from whatever side, live on that? But I wouldn't qualify for any help...but then I am getting used to that when $ 2500 of that goes to income tax alone.

    • showhomes
      April 15, 2014 - 08:04

      PEI is the most over governed province in the nation, a huge public service pension deficit that all of Canada is paying for, In fact all of Canada is paying for PEI and now you want even larger transfer payments? Clean up your gold plated pensions to public servants and you will be surprised how much money you have. When you look at it public servants already have a guaranteed annual income, guaranteed by the private sector, people making $10 per hour.

  • Marlene Black
    April 04, 2014 - 09:58

    The guaranteed annual income, should be for everyone to costly to run two systems. Everyone over the age 18 should receive the money including students. Think smaller student loans to pay back, they could start right out buying cars houses etc. As for everyone as people make more money the GAI goes away. Its complicated but it could work. Anyone wanting to know more may want to find and read Conservative senator Hugh Segal writings and speeches on the subject.

  • Dawna Coughlin
    April 04, 2014 - 09:40

    What a pile of crap! Wonder who GHIZ thinks is going to pay for this! We are taxed to death now. Not everybody makes a salary like GHIZ!

    • johnthames
      April 04, 2014 - 10:04

      Perhaps it would be wise to allow the research to proceed instead of knee-jerk reactions that only feed fear and ignorance. For one economies are changing, opportunity is dwindling and wealth inequality is at an all time high. And two, guaranteed income programs generally replace a bevy of other programs so they can be delivered in a cost neutral or near cost neutral way. Rather than condemn something you know little about perhaps it would be best if the pros and cons were outlined and people were consulted. Something needs to be done whether you like it or not, people cannot continue to choose between heat and food every winter for much longer. One final argument I will leave with you: if you give a poor man $100 he spends it in the local economy. If you give a rich man $100 he puts it in the bank and locks it up so it is not used in the economy. A GAI program would boost our growth and GDP will helping to slightly reduce income inequality. If you're one of those that received PNP (money for nothing) and you are complaining about a GAI you should really give your head a shake.

    • UPWESTER
      April 04, 2014 - 12:23

      johnthames...Your final argument makes little sense. I agree that the disparity of incomes is a serious problem but I disagree that opportunities are dwindling, if anything they are expanding for people with drive and desire. The paradigm has shifted from one where we depend on others for employment to one where we go out and create our own work. To say that any program would be revenue neutral is assanine. There is no such thing as revenue neutral. Check back on Mulroney when he said the GST would be revenue neutral and again at the HST, as we were also told it was revenue neutral. Still think the HST is revenue neutral? The only ones using revenue neutral are politicians trying to convince the great unwashed that it is good for them. One further thought, the rich man that puts his $100. in the bank enables those banks to lend money for mortgages, small business and to finance other things, including education and cars. Think about that a bit.

  • explore this
    April 04, 2014 - 09:39

    Explore how one with a disability can find housing with a cap limit heat lights for 346.00 per month in the charlottetown area ?

  • VaticanAssassin
    April 04, 2014 - 09:01

    Love the first paragraph, 'Premier Robert Ghiz says he is looking at the possibility of a guaranteed livable income project in Prince Edward Island.' Looking for the possibility!?!? Are you effing kidding me!?!? People need livable income, end of question. Maybe he should give out some of that money he's spending at the gentleman's club before stumbling outside.

  • Island reality
    April 04, 2014 - 06:32

    His last quote says it all - “I’m not against it, so therefore it’s worth exploring.” What arrogance! So unless it is his idea, or if he is not in favour of it, then it is not worth exploring? I would given the state of current affairs that maybe having an open mind and exploring everything might be a better approach! Keep them blinders on Robert!

  • Um ah well I will follow Trudeau anywhere um
    April 04, 2014 - 04:51

    The headline is a bit suggestive. Ghiz has done nothing for the poor even though he has doubled the debt. He is not agreeing with Crane, he is clearly going to dump any responsibility or leadership with someone in Ottawa like pretty boy Justin Margaret Trudeau

    • townie22
      April 04, 2014 - 08:16

      he brought in the Catastrophic Drug Program, that helps lower income Islanders.

    • work for a living!!
      April 04, 2014 - 20:22

      Why is it always those on social assistance that they feel need help ..what about the families that are working and would shovel crap too make it work ..pretty sure those on assistance for the most part can work like the rest of us for min wage we are expected to why are they not ...I say help those that are trying there best and rent is so costly and oil the rest of the bills along with it b the time you pay bills for the month and tired from working so hard theres nothing left but yet the ones on assistance can have the luxuries bingo ..night out with friends the whole nine yards more then a working person..time too take a good look Id say don't ya think?????