When the federal government launched the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) last year, it left some wondering whether it could lead to a lasting framework for a national basic income program — one that would help lift struggling Canadians out of poverty.
While it was a temporary program, CERB provided a touchstone for many who wondered, if the country can create a standard livable wage during a pandemic, why stop there?
Port Elgin, Ont., resident Mini Jacques was one of many who reached out to Ask CBC to find out where the parties stand on basic income during this election.
“It doesn’t seem like there’s an even playing field for basic living,” she said in an interview.
“The government is saying that for CERB, people get $2,000 just to exist and yet … [we] haven’t had a raise in disability for some time.”
Jacques is blind and relies on the Ontario Disability Support Program for income. Her rent costs $1,022 monthly and she receives $1,169 through ODSP. That leaves her just $147 a month to cover the remaining necessities.
She works part-time to supplement those benefits, but if she earns more than $200 monthly, half of her take home earnings over $200 are deducted from her income support.
Her rent is increasing, and she worries that her ODSP cheques won’t increase at the same pace. She’s 61 years old, and for now she said she’s getting by with the help of friends and family.
What Jacques wants is for the government to create a basic income program that sets the same standard income for everyone who needs help — whether you’re unemployed, disabled, or working but not earning enough to stay above the poverty line.
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What is basic income?
What makes basic income different from other programs, such as income assistance or welfare, is that it comes with no strings attached. In the simplest terms, it’s a regular payment without conditions, sent from the government to families and individuals.
In Canada about 3.7 million people live below the poverty line, according to the 2019 Canada Income Survey. Statistics Canada considers people as living below the poverty line if they don’t have enough income to cover the local cost of necessities such as food, clothing, footwear, transportation and shelter.
Right now, struggling Canadians can access help support through a patchwork of federal, provincial and municipal programs.
Health economist Evelyn Forget, a professor in the department of health sciences at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, said that basic income would replace many of those programs, and ideally cut out a lot of the confusing, bureaucratic red tape.
Forget, the author of Basic Income for Canadians: from the COVID-19 emergency to financial security for all, is a firm believer in the benefits of basic income.
She explained there are two types:
Universal basic income (UBI) means that everyone in a society — rich or poor — gets a monthly cheque for the same amount. At the end of the year, the government uses the tax system to balance out the scales and recoup that extra cash from the higher income earners who didn’t end up needing it.
Guaranteed basic income (GBI) is the system most people are referring to when they talk about basic income in Canada. It is an income-contingent system, meaning monthly payments only go to families and individuals with lower income.
The CERB program was not, in fact, basic income, because there were conditions to qualify: Canadians were only eligible if they had earned at least $5,000 in the last year.
Because the cost of living varies across Canada, there’s no single income level that defines poverty. But Forget said generally, advocates have talked about setting guaranteed basic income at around $20,000 a year for a single person between the ages of 18 to 64.
Where has it been tested and how well did it work?
Countries around the world, including Spain, Namibia, Brazil and Iran, have experimented with basic income, mostly through pilot projects and trial runs.
In Canada, Manitoba ran a pilot project called Mincome from 1974 to 1978 in the rural community of Dauphin.
The idea was to test whether a no-strings attached wage would actually help the working poor by supplementing their income, or end up deterring them from working altogether.
Forget studied the outcomes of that project and found that participants were less likely to be hospitalized and more likely to continue their education.
She said for the most part, basic income did not discourage people from working. One of the groups who worked less were new mothers who, in the 1970s in Manitoba, would have only been entitled to a few weeks of parental leave.
The other group that was disincentivized to work by basic income was young, unattached males. Forget discovered the reason those young men, often in their teens, were less likely to work was because basic income meant their families could afford to let them stay in school. Instead of dropping out to earn wages, they were able to get their high school diplomas.
“The fundamental idea behind basic income, I think, is solid,” she said.
“Unconditional money available to people allows them to make choices about their own lives, allows them to make better decisions about how to live their lives, and leads to better outcomes.”
More recently, Ontario introduced a basic income pilot project in 2017. Close to 4,000 people were enrolled and it was supposed to last three years, but was cancelled early following the election of Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government. They said the program was too expensive.
A 2021 report by Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer found that, if the federal government created a national basic income program similar to Ontario’s, it would cost around $85 billion in 2021-2022 and cut poverty rates by almost half.
“It costs a lot, no question about it,” Forget said.
However, she added that a lot of that cost would be balanced out by eliminating the programs basic income would replace, which might include income assistance or various refundable tax credits.
“A simplified process is always cheaper. It’s always more efficient,” she said.
What are the disadvantages?
In 2018, the government of British Columbia asked a panel of experts to study the feasibility of a basic income for the province. The resulting report found that “the needs of people in this society are too diverse to be effectively answered simply with a cheque from the government.”
Panel chair David Green, a labour economist and a professor at the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of B.C., said the better solution is to reform the programs that already exist.
“If our problem is really, the full heterogeneous, complex issue of poverty — how do we make a more just society — then, in many cases, sending people a cheque and hoping they will do better is not going to answer the problem,” Green said.
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Green said it would be better to tackle issues head-on, targeting poor working conditions and low wages, reforming the disability assistance program and boosting rent assistance.
Still, others believe basic income is the right solution for Canada.
Two of the calls for justice in the final report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls said Canada should establish a guaranteed livable income for all.
Where do the main parties stand?
Like economists, Canada’s main parties are also divided on basic income, though none are promising universal basic income. Here’s where they stand:
The Green Party:
Platform commits to establishing a guaranteed livable income program.
“The federal government would provide an initial base-level subsidy across the country, and an intergovernmental body would determine and administer the necessary supplemental amounts.”
Platform commits to a guaranteed livable basic income.
“New Democrats will work to expand all income security programs to ensure everyone in Canada has access to a guaranteed livable basic income.”
Would start by lifting seniors and people with disabilities out of poverty, and build on that to establish a basic income for all.
The Liberal Party:
No platform commitment to basic income.
Strong support from within the party for a basic income program.
Liberal MP for Davenport, Julie Dzerowicz, tabled a bill calling for a national basic income strategy in 2021. The bill died at the dissolution of parliament when the election was called.
The Bloc Québécois:
The People’s Party of Canada:
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Biden says United States would come to Taiwan’s defense
The United States would come to Taiwan‘s defense and has a commitment to defend the island China claims as its own, U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday, though the White House said later there was no change in policy towards the island.
“Yes, we have a commitment to do that,” Biden said at a CNN town hall when asked if the United States would come to the defense of Taiwan, which has complained of mounting military and political pressure from Beijing to accept Chinese sovereignty.
While Washington is required by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, it has long followed a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on whether it would intervene militarily to protect Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.
In August, a Biden administration https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/us-position-taiwan-unchanged-despite-biden-comment-official-2021-08-19 official said U.S. policy on Taiwan had not changed after the president appeared to suggest the United States would defend the island if it were attacked.
A White House spokesperson said Biden at his town hall was not announcing any change in U.S. policy and “there is no change in our policy”.
“The U.S. defense relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act. We will uphold our commitment under the Act, we will continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense, and we will continue to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo,” the spokesperson said.
Biden said people should not worry about Washington’s military strength because “China, Russia and the rest of the world knows we’re the most powerful military in the history of the world,”
“What you do have to worry about is whether or not they’re going to engage in activities that would put them in a position where they may make a serious mistake,” Biden said.
“I don’t want a cold war with China. I just want China to understand that we’re not going to step back, that we’re not going to change any of our views.”
Military tensions between Taiwan and China are at their worst in more than 40 years, Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said this month, adding that China will be capable of mounting a “full-scale” invasion by 2025.
Taiwan says it is an independent country and will defend its freedoms and democracy.
China says Taiwan is the most sensitive and important issue in its ties with the United States and has denounced what it calls “collusion” between Washington and Taipei.
Speaking to reporters earlier on Thursday, China’s United Nations Ambassador Zhang Jun said they are pursuing “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan and responding to “separatist attempts” by its ruling Democratic Progressive Party.
“We are not the troublemaker. On the contrary, some countries – the U.S. in particular – is taking dangerous actions, leading the situation in Taiwan Strait into a dangerous direction,” he said.
“I think at this moment what we should call is that the United States to stop such practice. Dragging Taiwan into a war definitely is in nobody’s interest. I don’t see that the United States will gain anything from that.”
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington, Michelle Nichols in New York and Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Stephen Coates)
Alec Baldwin fires gun on movie set, killing cinematographer, authorities say
Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on a movie set in New Mexico on Thursday, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza, authorities said.
The incident occurred on the set of independent feature film “Rust,” the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office said in a statement.
“The sheriff’s office confirms that two individuals were shot on the set of Rust. Halyna Hutchins, 42, director of photography, and Joel Souza, 48, director, were shot when a prop firearms was discharged by Alec Baldwin, 68, producer and actor,” the police said in a statement.
A Variety report https://bit.ly/3nnyldg said the shooting occurred at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, a production location south of Santa Fe in New Mexico.
No charges have yet been filed in regard to the incident, said the police, adding they are investigating the shooting.
Baldwin’s representatives did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; Editing by Karishma Singh)
Trudeau 'confident' other countries will accept Canadians' proof of vaccination – CBC.ca
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today he’s “very confident” countries around the world will accept Canadians’ proof of vaccination.
Today, the federal government announced that Canadians will be able to use a standardized provincial or territorial proof-of-vaccination documentation to travel internationally — although it will be up to foreign governments to accept them or not.
Government officials, speaking on background during a briefing this morning, said they worked with the provinces to come up with a “pan Canadian” format and are confident it will be widely accepted.
They added the government is working with other countries to ensure acceptance abroad.
“We are very confident this proof-of-vaccination certificate that will be federally approved, issued by the provinces with the health information for Canadians, is going to be accepted at destinations worldwide,” Trudeau told a news conference in Ottawa today.
The standardized COVID-19 proof of vaccination includes the holder’s name and date of birth, the number of doses received, the type of vaccine, lot numbers, dates of vaccination and a QR code that includes the vaccination history. Canadians can also request the proof by mail.
The documentation was designed with what the government calls a “common look” featuring the Government of Canada logo and the Canadian flag.
The government said that as of today, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Yukon are issuing the standardized proof of vaccination.
Trudeau said all the provinces and territories have agreed to issue the accepted credentials ahead of the holiday season.
“Not every province has yet delivered on that but I know they are all working very quickly and should resolve that in the weeks to come,” he said.
In Ontario, for example, fully vaccinated residents can download a QR code built to the SMART Health Card standard, which includes the Government of Canada “wordmark” or logo.
WATCH | Canadians will be able to use their provincial vaccine certificates for international travel
The SMART Health Card standard is a set of guidelines, approved by the International Organization for Standardization and endorsed by Canada, to store health information and is used by a number of tech companies, including Apple.
The government said it’s talking to other countries to encourage them to recognize those who have received mixed vaccine doses as being fully vaccinated.
“This includes sharing Canada’s evidence and experience with mixed schedules of Health Canada-authorized vaccines for both AstraZeneca/mRNA and mixed mRNA doses,” says a government release.
“Initial outreach has focused on the ongoing exchange of technical and scientific information to advance this time-sensitive work.”
Proof can be used for domestic travel too
The standardized proof of vaccination can also be used when the requirement for proof of vaccination to travel domestically kicks in at the end of the month, although travellers can continue to use their old provincial proof of vaccination if their province is not yet issuing the standardized credentials.
As of Oct. 30, all travellers aged 12 and older taking flights leaving Canadian airports or travelling on Via Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains must be fully vaccinated before boarding. Marine passengers on non-essential passenger vessels like cruise ships must also complete the vaccination series before travelling.
Mike McNaney is president of the National Airlines Council of Canada, which represents Canada’s largest air carriers — including Air Canada, Air Transat and WestJet. He said he welcomes the standardized approach and urged the government to ease off on other pandemic measures.
“With aviation becoming one of the only sectors requiring fully vaccinated employees and customers, it is imperative that the government work with us and determine what other travel measures can now be amended in keeping with global practices,” he wrote in a media statement.
“Such as elimination of blanket advisories against travel, elimination of mandatory PCR testing pre-departure for fully vaccinated international travellers coming to Canada, and enabling children under 12 to be exempt from de facto home quarantine.”
Officials said they considered other options, including federally issued credentials, but decided that would have “limited value” given that provinces and territories administered the shots and held the data.
They also said the global health travel advisories will soon adopt a destination-based approach, so that Canadians can better prepare travel plans.
Dispute over mandatory vaccine rule for MPs continues
Trudeau’s announcement comes as a fight brews over making vaccination mandatory for MPs ahead of Parliament’s return next month.
Earlier this week, the House of Commons’ governing body introduced a new mandatory vaccination policy for MPs and anyone else entering the House of Commons.
Conservatives said they oppose the “secret” move by the Board of Internal Economy and object to the idea of more virtual sittings of the chamber.
“While we encourage everyone who can be vaccinated to get vaccinated, we cannot agree to seven MPs, meeting in secret, deciding which of the 338 MPs, just elected by Canadians, can enter the House of Commons to represent their constituents,” said a statement from the party Wednesday.
WATCH| ‘It’s not too much to ask’ — Trudeau discusses mandatory vaccination rule for MPs
While the Conservative Party says that it supports vaccination as the “most important tool to get us out of this pandemic,” it did not require all of its candidates in the federal election to be fully vaccinated. It also didn’t reveal how many of its candidates were vaccinated.
Both the Liberals and NDP required that their candidates be vaccinated during the election campaign, though they did not extend that requirement to staff members. The Bloc Québécois said during the campaign that all of its candidates were vaccinated. The Green Party told CBC that both of its MPs have been fully vaccinated.
“It is puzzling to me that there are people out there that think that just because they are members of Parliament they do not need to keep themselves, their loved ones or their constituents safe, when the vast majority of Canadians have done the right thing,” Trudeau said Wednesday.
“It is on Mr. O’Toole to explain why he thinks people should not be fully vaccinated if they want to serve as members of Parliament, and why indeed he doesn’t even think there should be a hybrid model so those who aren’t fully vaccinated can still speak up for their constituents in the House of Commons.”
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