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Report reveals five-year effect of P.E.I. guaranteed income


The country’s smallest province could become the testbed for a potential basic income scheme in Canada.

Supporters gathered in P.E.I. Wednesday for the much-awaited release of a report detailing what a five-year guaranteed basic income program would look like on the island.

It would guarantee a yearly income for people between 18 and 64, estimated at $19,252 for individuals and $27,227 for families of two, though for every dollar increase in family’s net income, the benefit would be reduced by $0.50.

The report says the income is 85 per cent of the official poverty line, the government-determined adequate yearly income.

“While there will still be the need for many other social programs to support folks, this one is a critical step to make sure there’s a floor below which nobody can fall,” Trish Altass with PEI Working Group for Liveable Income.

The basic income would be in addition to, and not replace, other social programs, including child and old age benefits.

However, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, a taxpayer watchdog group, says one of the express advantages of a basic income program is universality that makes it cheap and efficient to operate, more than the patchwork of programs that currently exist.

“My concern is that, what we’re doing here, is really duplicating government, expanding bureaucracy, and having multiple programs that are, in some ways, trying to deal with the same issue,” said Jay Goldberg, CTF Atlantic director.

If the program goes ahead on P.E.I., it’s expected to cost $188.6 million; all those estimates based on the report’s 2022 numbers. Where this money comes from still hasn't been determined.

“The impacts will be significant, of course, for individuals, but there will be broad and far reaching impacts for all of us,” said Atlass. “It’s something we should all support.”

It would require spending from both the provincial and federal governments to roll out. The report is now in the hands of the P.E.I. Social Development Minister, who says it'll serve as a starting point in negotiations between the two entities.

There's no timeline yet as to when the program could be rolled out.

For more Prince Edward Island news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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