Ontario needs a minimum income floor

Posted on in Social Security Debates

Source: — Authors:

TheStar.com – Opinion/Readers’ Letters
March 26, 2019.   Tracy Smith-Carrier and David Knezevic

Re: Death knell for basic income: How participants will spend their last cheque, March 24

This week, Statistics Canada released new information claiming that the Canadian poverty rate in 2017 had dropped to 9.5 per cent, a major decrease from the 14 per cent living in low income in 2015. There are now fewer Canadians living below the poverty line than any time in the last decade.

To what do we owe this dramatic decline? Two reasons are worthy of consideration. First, the new poverty line. Under the new federal Poverty Reduction Strategy, Canada now has an official poverty line (finally).

This poverty line, however, provides lower income thresholds than the low-income measure researchers had typically been using in their low-income calculations.

Why does this matter? Because if you lower the benchmark, the number of people living in poverty invariably goes down.

Second, low-income families in Canada have now been given a form of basic income. Through the enhanced Canada Child Benefit, many families with children have seen a marked increase in their incomes, enough to lift them out of poverty.

At the same time that Statistics Canada announced this good news story, several media outlets have captured the narratives of the (now-cancelled) Ontario basic income pilot participants, many of them pointing to promising outcomes associated with having enough money to meet their basic needs. Doug Ford’s cancellation of the pilot was regrettable, however, it is time we forget about pilots and move on to ensure everyone has a minimum income floor.

Tracy Smith-Carrier and David Knezevic, Basic Income London

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editors/2019/03/26/ontario-needs-a-minimum-income-floor.html

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