Workshops focus on basic income guarantee idea

Nigel
Nigel Armstrong
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John (Bud) Gallie and Lori MacKay gather at the start of a workshop in South Rustico Tuesday to work on the idea of a basic income guarantee. They are members of the Working Group for a Livable Income which is conducting three workshops on the issue across P.E.I.

Goal is to have community or area on P.E.I. pilot the concept

SOUTH RUSTICO — Work is underway to advance the idea of having a basic income guarantee tested as a concept on Prince Edward Island.

The Working Group for a Livable Income is hosting three open workshops on the concept across the province. The first was in South Rustico Tuesday night.

“There seems to be a bit of support from our provincial government at this point in terms of interest in the idea,” said Lori MacKay, of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which is a member of the working group .

She said the goal is to have a community or area on P.E.I. pilot the idea as a demonstration.

The group wants to come up with a plan that will run as a five-year project with 1,000 participants, along with a control group for comparison. If successful, the plan should be capable of scaling up to run in the whole province.

“It would bring people to a certain income level that is livable and sustainable and instead of it being a social program, you would have it more as a guarantee of an income,” said MacKay.

The Working Group for a Livable Income includes the Cooper Institute, P.E.I. Federation of Labour, P.E.I. People First and the Society of Saint Vincent De Paul, to name a few.

“We are still in the early stages of what this might look like so we certainly don’t feel like we have all the answers but it’s about bringing it to the community,” said MacKay. “We are starting the process of having conversations about what it might look like, then go from there.”

A similar pilot was done in Manitoba in the 1970s and, while successful, was not implemented beyond the pilot, she said.

The program would be administered through the tax system and be similar to the Child Tax Benefit, Old Age Security and other such programs.

In that way, it would move out of the realm of a social program with all

its cracks, pitfalls and demeaning processes, said MacKay.

The groups says that when a sustainable, livable income is provided to all residents there are fewer visits to the emergency room, fewer people sent to jail, workers stay in the workforce longer, plus other society-wide benefits.

“Social programs that exist today do not cover everybody’s needs and there is still lots of people living in poverty,” said MacKay.

A second workshop was held Wednesday in Souris and another is scheduled tonight in O’Leary.

Organizations: Canadian Union of Public Employees, Cooper Institute, P.E.I. Federation of Labour Society of Saint Vincent De Paul Child Tax Benefit

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, South Rustico, Manitoba Souris O’Leary

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  • suzanne visser
    April 25, 2014 - 22:18

    Your article was mentioned on the Basic Income Australia Facebook Page today: https://www.facebook.com/#!/basicincomeguaranteeaustralia

  • Jed Mitchener
    April 25, 2014 - 11:10

    The Basic Income Guarantee should be the basis for a nation's money supply. What is more stable than a nation's population? If everyone were simply "given" enough to cover 1) 3000 calories per day for food (perhaps via a National or State Food Debit Card that resets itself every 1st of the month), 2) a fixed amount for energy consumption that ensures homes are heated (not cooled), electricity is provided, and internet is connected, and 3) while we're at it, let's figure out a fixed amount to help cover a month's rent / mortgage payments. Capitalism can and will continue to work just fine *on top of* this most basic "human right" -- the right to survive.

  • Jed Mitchener
    April 25, 2014 - 04:22

    The Basic Income Guarantee should be the basis for a nation's money supply. What is more stable than a nation's population? If everyone were simply "given" enough to cover 1) 3000 calories per day for food (perhaps via a National Food Debit Card that resets itself every 1st of the month), 2) a fixed amount for energy consumption that ensures homes are heated (not cooled), electricity is provided, and internet is connected, and 3) while we're at it, let's figure out a fixed amount to help cover a month's rent / mortgage payments. Capitalism can and will continue to work just fine *on top of* these "basic human rights", and the first country to figure this out and do it will be pleasantly surprised to find a long line of people wanting to immigrate within days of the law being passed.

  • Quiet Observer
    April 24, 2014 - 11:07

    It is actually a good concept but would have to be implemented on a national scale. A proper system would take the place of EI, social assistance, CPP, OAS and all other federal and provincial support programs. It is calculated based on annual tax returns and voluntarily updated by people as they gained/lost employment. While it would guarantee a basic minimal level of existence, It would also encourage people to find work of any sort - full or part time. the claw back on the payments would not be on a dollar for dollar basis, thereby making it worthwhile for people to find that extra job. It would greatly reduce paperwork and eliminate a huge bureaucracy as EI, social assistance, OAS, etc. would all disappear.

    • Dave
      April 24, 2014 - 19:28

      Many call the Manitoba project a success, and make some dubious claims about it. However, it also contained incentives for people on assistance to work, incentives which did not exist at all prior to the study. IN fact, there were zero incentives prior to the project. As a result of the incentives, people with a guaranteed income worked less. Not just single moms either, men and women worked less...........It didn't work as an incentive.

  • Matt Cameron
    April 24, 2014 - 09:39

    Why not start out with a guaranteed annual income for disabled people first? Let's help the truly most disadvantaged before moving onto everyone.