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Canada votes 2021: Candidates share thoughts on universal basic incomes

Some people support them, others reject them, here’s where the candidates stand
2019-10-21 Polling station RB
Raymond Bowe/BarrieToday

With election day on Sept. 20, the time to make a decision is upon us. To help you parse where the party’s stand on the issues of the day, we sent a questionnaire to the candidates of the four parties with a member in parliament, as well as the People’s Party of Canada candidates.

Issues we polled the candidates on were climate change, affordable housing, Laurentian University and the post-secondary sector, the opioid crisis, Indigenous issues, vaccine passports, corporate taxation, universal basic income and mental health supports.

Questionnaires were sent to all candidates, though not all candidates chose to participate. As well, some candidates did not answer all questions provided.

Nickel Belt Riding

Under what circumstances should Canada institute a universal basic income? If not, why not?

Craig Gravelle, Green Party

Canada should institute a universal basic income in perpetuity no matter the circumstances. A universal basic income program would provide Canadians with more choice, dignity, and opportunity, stimulate local economies and leave no one behind. The results from OBIP and Mincome have proven that the program has many benefits including better health outcomes, a decrease in crime, and more bargaining power for workers. 77 per cent of Liberal delegates at a recent convention voted in favour of having a UBI in the Liberal party platform. Unfortunately, the Liberal party leader lacks enthusiasm in the idea, and will not include what 77 per cent of Liberal delegates want in their platform. There is only one party offering voters an unconditional guaranteed livable income and that is the Green Party of Canada.

Marc Serré, Liberal Party

Affordability is crucial. We must explore different methods to support Canadians and residents of Nickel Belt. Rather than exploring basic income we are working to create an EI system that works better for everyone, supporting low income seniors, boosting Child Canada Benefit for families, making affordable $10 a day childcare accessible for all, investing in home retrofits to save on energy, introducing a disability benefit, making our financial system more fair and much more.

Sudbury Riding

Under what circumstances should Canada institute a universal basic income? If not, why not?

Viviane Lapointe, Liberal Party

The membership of the Liberal Party of Canada has endorsed a Universal Basic Income for Canadians, but the government has not yet agreed to pilot it. Instead, the Liberal government has continued to build out targeted support programs for vulnerable Canadians, and those programs have been very successful. 

For example, the Liberal government passed the Canada Child Benefit, to replace the Conservatives’ old Universal Child Benefit. The CCB has proven to be one of the most successful poverty reduction programs in modern Canadian history, having been widely credited with up to 435,000 families out of poverty. In Sudbury alone, the CCB puts $54 million annually directly into the pockets of Sudbury families who needed it the most.

We also provided a CCB top-up of up to $1,200 to help parents of children under 6 cope with extra costs during COVID-19.

Our government also reversed the Conservative policy and restored the age of eligibility for OAS and GIS to 65, from 67, preventing 100,000 seniors aged 65 and 66 from plunging into severe poverty each year. We also increased the Old Age Security pension by 10 per cent for all seniors aged 75+, providing $766 over the first year to pensioners receiving the full benefit. 

Going forward, a re-elected Liberal government will also work with all provinces and territories over the next year to increase the support survivors, many of whom are women, receive by increasing the Canada Pension Plan and Quebec Pension Plan survivor’s benefit by 25 per cent.

David Robinson, Green Party

We support a Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI) program to replace the current array of income supports, such as disability payments, social assistance, income supplements for seniors and refundable credits. We would begin to implement it immediately if a miracle happened and we formed the government.

Ian Symington, Conservative Party

Basic income supports will never replace the benefits of a job. The benefits of working include increased self worth, improved mental health, community involvement, ability to improve yourself, and contribution to economies and providing services to others. Those who cannot work will be covered under the large safety net we have in Canada. Canada’s Conservatives will create jobs through our Jobs Plan, providing stability to working Canadians. We need a recovery for all Canadians in every sector, which our plan will deliver. We also need to make work pay, make it more secure, and protect workers. That’s precisely what our plan delivers. $1/hour Raise for Working Canadians Canada’s Conservatives believe that it’s time to make work pay and help those most in need. We will: double the Canada Workers Benefit up to a maximum of $2,800 for individuals or $5,000 for families, and pay it as a quarterly direct deposit rather than a  tax refund at year-end. This will put an average of an extra thousand dollars into the  pockets of the most vulnerable workers, helping three and a half million families put food on the table. We will be giving someone making $20,000 per year a $1/hour raise. We will also double the disability supplement from $713 to $1,500. This will help almost  90,000 disabled workers. 

Nadia Verrelli, NDP

New Democrats believe that this is a critical moment to strengthen our social safety net and to improve income supports so that all Canadians can live in dignity and security. We know that when we invest in meaningful income supports, it gives people a chance to live full and healthy lives.

With the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, we have seen what’s possible when governments mobilize to make a livable income a priority. But unlike the Liberals, who moved quickly to cut these benefits, New Democrats won’t stop there – we’ll get to work right away building towards a guaranteed livable income for all Canadians.

We’ll start this work immediately by lifting every senior and person living with a disability out of poverty, and build from there until every Canadian can count on a basic livable income when they need it. This will be complemented by bold new investments in housing, health care, post-secondary education and training to set all Canadians up to succeed.

In time, New Democrats will work to expand all income security programs to ensure everyone in Canada has access to a guaranteed livable basic income. Making the creation of a guaranteed livable basic income a priority will strengthen our social safety net and finally ensure dignity, security and peace of mind for everyone in Canada.