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Report recommends against basic income in BC, saying it's no cure-all

A government−commissioned panel is recommending against the introduction of a basic income for all in British Columbia.

The panel’s report, co−authored by academics at the University of BC, Simon Fraser University and the University of Calgary, says a basic income is not the cure−all that some advocates believe.

The authors say a more successful strategy would be to reform current policies and programs as well as provide a targeted basic income for youth aging out of care and those with disabilities.

“Our evidence suggests that a mixed, tailored system is the best approach for positive change,” said Dr. David Green, professor at the Vancouver School of Economics at UBC, and the panel’s chair.

“British Columbians would stand to benefit the most with different approaches in different circumstances.”

<who> Photo credit: Canadian Press

The panel’s 500−page report says it believes a basic income pilot project would not provide useful information and raises ethical concerns.

The report makes 65 recommendations ranging from extended health supplements to adjusting tax system−delivered benefits, such as aiming BC’s child opportunity benefit more directly toward families with children living in poverty.

The BC government commissioned the panel in July 2018 to examine the issue as part of the New Democrat’s minority government confidence and supply agreement with BC’s Green party.

Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, said: "The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how important a strong social safety net is to protect people and the economy. "

Among the recommendations were:

  • Extended health supplements including basic dental coverage and rental housing assistance for all households at low incomes including the working poor and independent of the Income Assistance system
  • Targeted programs that combine cash transfers with wraparound social support for groups in transition, like youth aging out of care, persons fleeing domestic violence, and those facing high barriers to employment, who have more specific needs
  • An overhaul of the Disability Assistance system, with a renewed emphasis on those with mental health and addiction issues, that emphasizes dignity and support for work for those who want it, reformulating the program as a targeted basic income
  • A reformed Temporary Assistance program, providing monetary benefits in a dignified and respectful way to those able to work and better facilitating their transition to employment
  • Increased benefit amounts for both Disability Assistance and Temporary Assistance recipients and reducing the disincentives for beneficiaries to pursue paid employment
  • Adjustments to tax system-delivered benefits, such as a provincial earnings supplement for the working poor and targeting BC’s Child Opportunity Benefit more directly to families with children living in poverty
  • Regulatory reform to improve job conditions and wages for low-skill, low-income workers which dovetail with other measures to encourage work

For the full report and all of its recommendations, click here.

– With files from the Canadian Press

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