Canada is struggling when it comes to the subject of financial success for the citizens. In 2021, bills S-233 and C-223 were introduced in Parliament, recently passing their second reading in April. The purpose of these bills is to provide a basic livable income to all Canadian citizens over the age of 18.
Given that it is a hot topic of conversation, it is important to understand the objectives of these bills. The purpose of S-233 and C-223 is to reduce tax breaks for corporations and subsidies for the wealthiest citizens of Canada, instead, redirecting the money to all applicable Canadian citizens. This strategy would allow citizens to reinvest their earnings back into the economy. This is important because Canada’s economy struggles to sustain itself when substantial amounts of Canadian’s individual incomes are going solely towards bills and privately owned companies, rather than circulated back into the broader economy.
When it comes to proof of concept regarding these bills you can look no further than one of Canada’s largest provinces, Ontario. From 2017 to 2019, Ontario ran a universal basic income pilot in the cities of Thunder Bay, Hamilton, Brantford, and Lindsey. The point of the study was to give those with little to no income the basic living allowance they need in order to live comfortably.
According to the UNESCO Inclusive Policy Lab, “Our study revealed positive impacts in physical health, mental health, and well-being for both participants and others in their households. More precisely, of the total respondents, 74% reported more participation in physical activity, 83% reported better mental health and 79% reported better well-being. In addition, 71% reported feeling less tired and 57% reported less physical pain. Recipients adopted healthier life choices, including less use of tobacco (56%) and alcohol (48%). They were less stressed (86%), less likely to be depressed (83%), and had a more positive outlook on life (86%). This contributed to fewer demands on the public health system.”
As the above statistics show, Universal basic income would not only save the economy, but it would also improve the lives of Canadian citizens. Ontario’s Premier Kathleen Wayne stated, “The kinds of tangible improvements in people’s lives and outcomes we were starting to see as a result of the Ontario Basic Income Pilot included increased work placements and community involvement, improved school retention and positive health – especially mental health – outcomes.”
Despite support for these bills, there are detractors who argue that it may foster a generation of lazy workers who just want to “coast off of the government’s dime.” But such a sentiment couldn’t be farther from the truth. Experiments with UBI globally, including Canada and the U.S., have generally shown a positive impact, leading to increased full-time employment. UBI provides flexibility. It reduces the stress of living paycheck to paycheck and allows individuals to enjoy a more comfortable life.
So with that being said, bills like these could potentially revive Canada’s economy and improve the overall well-being of its citizens. The positive outcomes observed in the Ontario pilot suggest that UBI is a viable solution to address economic challenges.