The federal budget watchdog estimates a six-month guaranteed basic income for all eligible Canadians could cost the government less than what has already been spent on Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) payments over a four-month period.
Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux released a new report Tuesday in the wake of emergency money that’s been rolled out to soften the “brutal” economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The introduction of CERB has brought discussions of universal basic income to the forefront once again,” the PBO wrote in its report.
A basic income for the last six months of the 2020-21 fiscal year would cost at least $47.5 billion and upwards of $98 billion, the report read. In this scenario, the funding would provide a guaranteed annual income of $18,329 and $25,921 to individuals and couples, respectively.
Approximately 9.6 million Canadians between the age of 18 and 64 would be eligible for payments at the lowest income threshold the PBO examined. The money is intended to help cover the basic necessities of life such as food, clothing and shelter.
Advocates have long argued that implementing a guaranteed basic income could replace an existing patchwork of social assistance programs and tax measures for low-income or disabled individuals, while saving administration costs.
The PBO found approximately $15 billion could be saved this way. The savings could theoretically be used to offset the cost of implementing a guaranteed basic income.
Comparatively, the federal government has so far paid $53.5 billion in direct CERB payments since mid-March to Canadians whose employment has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Breaking down the math
Giroux’s office used the parameters of Ontario’s scrapped basic income project to guide its calculations. The PBO included a supplemental $1.7 billion for guaranteed income for disabled Canadians into all of its projected scenarios.
The PBO looked at how much a federal program could cost at a 50 per cent, 25 per cent, and 15 per cent reduction rate.
A reduction rate is the percentage of the benefit that is reduced in relation to earned income. So, for every dollar in wages, a recipient’s benefit is reduced by between 50 and 15 cents, depending on the model. The reduction is built into many basic income proposals as a way to incentivize people to work and earn higher incomes.
The lower the reduction rate, the more people who would be eligible for larger benefits — which in turn increases overall program costs.
China’s ambassador to Canada said Canadians should prepare for retaliation after Ottawa protested the Asian nation’s security crackdown in Hong Kong.
In an exclusive interview with the Star, Ambassador Cong Peiwu accused the Liberal government of “interfering in China’s internal affairs” by suspending the Canada-Hong Kong extradition treaty and stopping military and “dual-use” exports to the city.
Cong was reiterating and reinforcing the official line from Beijing. On Monday, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry condemned the Canadian response, “reserved the right to further react,” and warned Canada would “bear the consequences.”
“I’d like to suggest you just wait and see,” Cong said when asked what specific “consequences” Beijing was contemplating.
“As I have told you, we are resolute in safeguarding our national security and sovereignty. We will not just sit idly by.”
It was another in a growing list of warnings and retaliatory actions made against Canada by the Chinese government, which is facing international condemnation for a draconian new national security law imposed on Hong Kong. The new law, which came into effect last week, gives Beijing more power to silence political dissent, as well as limit the activities of non-governmental organizations, media and foreign governments in Hong Kong.
The Canadian government condemned the crackdown, and on Friday announced it was suspending its extradition agreement with Hong Kong, as well as military or “dual use” exports — such as equipment used by police to quell pro-democracy demonstrations in the city.
Canada’s foreign affairs minister, François-Philippe Champagne, has accused the Chinese government of “coercive diplomacy” and “arbitrary detention” — a reference to Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, two Canadians who have languished in Chinese detention for more than 570 days and are now facing espionage charges. In a move widely seen as retaliation, they were detained by Chinese authorities just days after Canadian police arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in December 2018.
But Beijing’s aggressive diplomatic posture is yielding diminishing returns, according to Margaret McCuaig-Johnston, a University of Ottawa professor and former civil servant who worked on Canada-China relations.
McCuaig-Johnston said China has taken a similar approach with Canada’s allies — including the U.K., U.S., France, Germany, and others — trying to mute criticism on everything from human rights to Huawei to Hong Kong.
“I think they are overplaying their hand,” McCuaig-Johnston said in an interview.
“Western countries are not amused by these kinds of threats. That’s why some of the threats are very specific, like threats to Germany’s auto industry if they don’t (allow) Huawei (into 5G networks), threats to stop work on building nuclear reactors and high-speed rail systems in the U.K.”
“For countries like Canada, there are quite a few ways they can hurt us — through their companies, by kidnapping our citizens … but I think Canada and other countries are working more closely together to collaborate on common approaches,” McCuaig-Johnston said.
Champagne told the Star in an interview Friday that Ottawa is working on a new “framework” for Canada-China relations based on “clear rules and standards,” “Canadian interests,” and “values and principles including human rights.”
But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government have repeatedly said that securing the release of Spavor and Kovrig is their top priority.
Detained shortly after Meng’s arrest, the two were held without charges for more than a year. In June, Chinese authorities announced both men would be charged with stealing state secrets.
Meng faces possible extradition to the United States, where the high-powered telecom executive is wanted on fraud charges.
On Tuesday, Cong repeated lines from the Chinese government suggesting the “facts” of the cases against Kovrig and Spavor were clear — despite Chinese authorities releasing almost no “facts” about what the two men are alleged to have done.
Kovrig and Spavor’s extended detention — it could still be years before they face trial — has led some prominent Canadian political figures and legal thinkers to argue that Canada should engage in a “prisoner swap:” the two Michaels for Meng. Others, including Canada’s former ambassador to China, David Mulroney, have argued that would encourage more “hostage diplomacy” from Beijing.
Asked repeatedly about the issue Tuesday, Cong kept returning to what China views as the “political” nature of the fraud charges against Meng.
“So my suggestion and my hope is that the Canadian side will reflect on its policy and it will take measures to correct the political decision (and) release Meng as soon as possible,” Cong said.
“Because we believe that is the main obstacle in our bilateral relationship. And so that means we can bring our relations back on track.”
When asked if Canadians should take that to mean releasing Meng would put an end to China’s retaliatory actions, Cong said: “if Canada takes the measures to remove the main obstacle, the Meng case, it helps our relationship to be back on track, and that’s conducive to the great potential of our co-operation.”
It’s still an unsustainable expense, as we have no money to spend.Well how bout that..
Basic Income Could Cost Less Than Money Spent On CERB: Watchdog
We don't either, since when does that stuff matter
I beat that guy up in a seedy brothel one time
Did anyone else say in March they should just pay us to stay the fuck home for 3 weeks or was that just me?Well how bout that..
Basic Income Could Cost Less Than Money Spent On CERB: Watchdog
Who here can pay rent/mortgage, food, and phone/internet on $2k per month?The $2,000-a-month benefit is estimated to have covered the monthly housing, food, phone and internet costs for the bottom and middle thirds of households, according to Finance Department calculations.