HALIFAX – Given the extraordinary circumstances facing Canadians during this time of economic downturn and uncertainty, the Green Party of Canada is urging the federal government to immediately begin implementing elements of a Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI) program. GLI would provide every Canadian with a basic income. Faced with the economic fallout of a crisis like COVID-19, it would ensure that people can cover basic expenses such as food and accommodation.
MP Paul Manly (Nanaimo-Ladysmith), Green caucus critic for labour, employment, workforce development and disability inclusion, points out that in addition to helping vulnerable citizens, GLI would help nonprofits and small businesses to retain employees during a shutdown.
“Yesterday I talked with a couple of small business tourism operators about retaining employees during the crisis,” said Mr. Manly. “Needless to say they are very concerned. If all Canadians had their basic needs covered this would reduce anxiety and take the pressure off small business operators forced to temporarily downsize their workforce. GLI would help people in precarious jobs, multiple part timers and the gig economy. It would help homeless people and under employed people. It would also meet one of the key recommendations of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry. It will help workers in the energy industry, which is also in deep trouble. We’re in a crisis and people need to know there will be relief.”
“People across the nation are worried about making ends meet,” said Jenica Atwin, (MP, Fredericton). “When the Minister of Finance announces emergency fiscal measures tomorrow, I expect to see direct payments to Canadians so they can pay their bills as well as an immediate extension on income taxes, and suspending payments for federal student loans.”
“The Green Party has been calling for a Guaranteed Livable Income program for years, and the current crisis makes it even more relevant,” said Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “Right now we need to be issuing checks to those in need, to help them get through what is happening. But this is the perfect opportunity for the Trudeau administration to begin exploring how we can make GLI happen before the next emergency arises. It would be more cost effective and less of a bureaucratic nightmare to provide a basic income to ALL Canadians instead of a patchwork of relief programs. GLI would ensure everyone has the financial means to help cover their rent, food, medications and basic necessities. It would bring enormous relief to millions across the country who are currently facing financial anxiety.”
When the government of Canada developed its first poverty reduction strategy, Opportunity For All. it adopted the Market Basket Measure (MBM) as Canada’s official poverty line. In its 2019 Platform, the Green Party called for GLI to replace the current array of income supports, such as disability payments, social assistance and income supplements for seniors. Building on the MBM, payment would be set at a “livable” level for different regions of the country. Unlike existing support programs, GLI would not be clawed back, and those earning above a certain total income would pay the GLI back in taxes.
“We applaud Quebec’s announcement yesterday that workers who are in isolation, or who’ve lost their jobs because of COVID-19, will receive weekly payments of $573. In a similar move, New Zealand will fund full-time and part-time workers affected by the crisis,” said Interim Leader Jo-Ann Roberts. “As we move into uncharted territory, and as the climate emergency unfolds, Greens would like to see a more effective system in place to support Canadians’ financial wellbeing.”
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