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A new study was released today saying that Canada is closer than ever to a workable guaranteed basic income (GBI). In fact, the University of Calgary School of Public Policy report says the cost may be less burdensome than many would think.
Here are the top 5 things for you to know about A guaranteed basic income for Canadians: off the table or within reach.
- We can pay for a GBI by eliminating the GST credit and lowering basic personal income tax exemptions, and effectively finance it without imposing an excessive tax burden on Canadians.
- A GBI offers a huge opportunity to simplify income assistance. Current provincial “welfare” programs have hundreds of rules and corresponding benefit rates and dozens of specialized benefits. The current income assistance programs can also disincentivize people from working.
- Implementing a GBI does not mean provincial income support programs will or should go away. The study says a GBI could supplement these programs on a temporary basis until the tax system becomes more responsive to people’s changing incomes.
- The authors recommend implementation by the federal government, and not the provinces, because of its centrality in designing and implementing tax structures and collecting tax revenue.
- The GBI proposed in the study could reduce the rate and depth of poverty by over 60%. When you consider that poverty costs Albertans between $7.1-9.5 billion annually, this increases the affordability of a GBI even further.
The study simulates four options for a GBI assessing them based on disposable incomes, poverty reduction potential, cost and their effect on the labour supply. It provides some much-needed data in the Canadian context to equip policy makers and advocates.