It’s hard to believe, but Canada now ranks a dismal 25th out of 38 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development in terms of relative child poverty rates. Greens believe reducing child poverty starts with a stronger commitment to guaranteeing that all families have the ability to provide for their children. Research has demonstrated that programs providing a universal basic income reduce expenditure on health care and the justice system, and increase school retention.
The Green Party 2019 Platform proposes to establish a universal Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI) program to replace the current array of income supports, such as disability payments, social assistance and income supplements for seniors. Payment would be set at a “livable” level for different regions of the country. Unlike existing income support programs, additional income would not be clawed back. Those earning above a certain total income would pay the GLI back in taxes.
Is poverty a serious problem in Canada?
The most recent Canadian Income Survey reveals that 9.5 per cent of Canada’s population − about 3.4 million people – lives below the poverty line.27 Poverty rates are even higher within marginalized and vulnerable groups, such as people living with disabilities, single mothers and seniors. In a wealthy country like Canada, this is unacceptable.
What causes poverty in a wealthy nation like Canada?
Poverty is a systemic problem that arises from low wages and insufficient income assistance, a precarious job market, a shortage of affordable housing and quality child care, and cuts in social programs. It is also tied directly to issues of bias and discrimination on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, and citizenship, as well as the ongoing legacy of colonization. Eliminating poverty requires systemic action on all these fronts with safe secure housing as a fundamental human right at its core.
Sounds complicated. How would you start?
GLI programs are affordable, but the savings and costs of implementation are experienced in different orders of government. To proceed will require cooperation of each province, territory and Indigenous community through a vehicle such as the Council of Canadian Governments. The negotiation to implement a livable income across the country would take place through the Council of Canadian Governments.