Would a universal basic income help Canada’s lowest earners? It depends who you ask


The prospect of a universal basic income in Canada is moving onto the front burner for the governing Liberal party and many policy-makers, but some experts are concerned that such a program won’t help the most vulnerable. The latest report on a universal basic income (UBI) from the independent Parliamentary Budget Officer on Wednesday says such a program would boost the average disposable income of Canada’s lowest earners by just over $4,500, reducing poverty across the country. Higher earners, by comparison, would see a drop of between one and two per cent in disposable income, due to an increase in taxes and the elimination of many tax credits. The report used parameters set for Ontario’s 2017 basic income pilot project, pegging a UBI at $16,989 for a single person and $24,027 for a couple, with the amount decreasing by $0.50 for every dollar earned through employment. It estimated the program would cost $87 billion in 2022, rising to $93 billion in 2025. There’s a push from within the Liberal party, as well as from MPs of other parties, to see a UBI put in place for Canada.

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