This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: The Duel: ‘Mincome’ a fresh idea
This weeks duel is one that was very interesting to research and I found myself spending far more time reading different publications on a guaranteed annual income because it was so intriguing. As with many items, political will can make this succeed,just as a lack of it will prevent it from happening. What do you think?
This week’s topic: Should Canadians be guaranteed a minimum annual income provided by the government?
It’s often said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. When it comes to how our government is addressing poverty, that old cliché stands true. Despite social assistance programs, tax credits and poverty reduction targets in most provinces, significant progress hasn’t been made in eliminating poverty in Canada.
With a federal election this year, people from across the political spectrum are starting new conversations about an old idea that is again gaining popularity: “mincome.” This is the term for a minimum guaranteed annual income that would replace all the different payments and credits that currently exist to aid lower-income Canadians and their families.
It’s a concept that has been tossed around for decades and the federal government even conducted an experiment in the 1970s to see what impact a guaranteed minimum income would have in the community of Dauphin, Manitoba. If a household’s income dropped below a certain level, they were given a supplement to top it off. The experiment was discontinued after four years due to a lack of political will and a recession, and the findings were locked up in a warehouse. A report was never issued by the government, but a researcher who has since gained access to some of the records found evidence it was a success.
Read Brent Stafford’s column here.
During the period of the experiment, there was dramatically less hospitalization, the drop-out rate of teens in high school fell, and there were remarkably fewer arrests and convictions. There were also fewer mental health consultations and, despite critics concerns that people would milk the system, recipients didn’t stop working or reduce their hours of work.
The Fraser Institute recently issued a research paper on the concept of a guaranteed annual income that estimated the costs of administering all of the current government support systems at $185 billion in 2013 alone. That number doesn’t even begin to include the social costs related to poverty that burden our cities. Even they agree the idea has merit and could save the country money…
READ the rest of this weeks duel, comment and vote at: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2015/02/01/the-duel-mincome-a-fresh-idea