Poverty cure

CalgaryHerald.com – business
June 29, 2011.   By Joe Ceci, Calgary Herald

Re: “Mayor looks for ‘big idea’ to tackle poverty in Calgary,” June 28.

If the mayor is looking to lead on the issue of poverty in our city, there is no bigger idea than to advocate for a basic annual income based on a negative income tax.

Like the “housing-first” game-changer assisting thousands of Albertans that has the support of our mayor, basic annual incomes for all Canadians would help to lift all out of poverty. As Senators Hugh Segal and Art Eggleton have suggested, a basic annual income means ensuring that people, regardless of the reasons for their need, receive an income that would keep them above the poverty line.

Good social policy should work to alleviate poverty, and thus prevent the associated ills which themselves arrive with other costs we all share -for health care, for policing, for diminished educational outcomes.

Another big idea that the mayor might advocate for locally would be to put every decision this council makes through a “poverty lens” and to ask the question, “How will this decision or this policy affect people living in poverty in our city?”

Council discussions about user fees and transit costs, or the stalemate around secondary suites, might all have different outcomes if viewed through a poverty lens.

Joe Ceci, Calgary Joe Ceci is a former alderman and co-ordinator of the Alberta Poverty Reduction Strategy Initiative.

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