This week, the Hamilton Chamber participated in the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s (CCC) Virtual Annual General Meeting, where chambers from across Canada voted on policies the network will advocate for in Ottawa.
By: c.dambrosio – – @hamiltonchamber.ca
The Hamilton Chamber advanced a resolution, co-sponsored by the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce, calling for the Canadian government to create a basic income pilot project and assess the potential costs, benefits, pitfalls, challenges and outcomes of a nationwide basic income social assistance program. The proposal was adopted by the gathering of chamber attendees from across the country and is now one of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s policy resolutions that can be advocated for with the federal government.
Hamilton and Thunder Bay were two communities chosen by the previous provincial government for a three-year basic income pilot project. That project was cut short after one year due to a change in government. The Hamilton and Thunder Bay Chambers then advocated that the federal government take up the project.
The chambers suggest a basic income pilot project would serve evidence-based policymakers by helping governments understand whether basic income payments: are cost-effective, fiscally sustainable, influence recipients’ socio-economic outcomes, their participation in the labour market, and/or their uptake of education/training opportunities; alter participants’ use of existing social and/or income redistribution programs, and; lead to an increase in entrepreneurial activity.
“I’m thrilled that our colleagues agreed that the time is ripe for the CCC to have a position on one of the most topical and potentially transformational public policy proposals in our national discourse, guaranteed basic income (GBI),” said Keanin Loomis, CEO of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. “One could very easily see this as being a major issue in the next election.”
“From the perspectives of our Members, some of the great appeals of GBI are that it could have the effect of streamlining a complicated welfare system and enhancing efforts to build a skilled workforce while injecting money into communities that gets spent overwhelmingly at local businesses,” added Charla Robinson, President of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce.
- In 2017, the Government of Ontario selected three cities (Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Lindsay) to take part in a three-year basic income pilot project. The program was cut short and evaluations were not completed as planned. To account for this potential loss of policy insight, the Hamilton Community Foundation funded a study by McMaster University and Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction to assess the effects of basic income on the lives of recipients in Hamilton, Brantford and Brant County. The results of this 2020 study showed that nearly 80% of respondents reported feeling more motivated to find better paying jobs while receiving basic income support.
- COVID-19 has greatly impacted Canada, creating market disruption and resulting in unforeseen economic downturn. The Government of Canada introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) mid-crisis, which provides financial support to Canadians affected by COVID-19. Canadians earning less than $1,000 a month were among those eligible to access CERB funds, which offered eligible applicants $2,000/month. As of June 2020, four months into the program’s existence, the Government of Canada received 15.4 million applications from 8.4 million unique applicants. An ongoing basic income program could be one means of managing future market disruptions, be they from automation or pandemics.