Canada is currently in the process of considering a groundbreaking piece of legislation known as Bill S-233, which aims to establish a national framework for a guaranteed livable basic income. This ambitious proposal, introduced in December 2021, has been met with both support and skepticism. In this article, we will delve into the details of Bill S-233, exploring its potential benefits and challenges.
Understanding Bill S-233
Bill S-233, currently under examination by the Canadian Senate’s national finance committee, seeks to require the Minister of Finance to develop a comprehensive system that would provide a “guaranteed livable basic income” to all Canadian residents aged 17 and above. The proponents of this bill argue that it could have a far-reaching impact on poverty reduction, income equality, health outcomes, and educational opportunities in the country.
Consultation and Collaboration
To shape this national framework, the Minister must engage in extensive consultation with various stakeholders, including the Minister of Health, ministers responsible for employment, social development, and disability, as well as provincial government representatives in charge of health, disability, education, and social development. Indigenous elders, governing bodies, policy developers, political decision-makers, and experts with experience in similar income programs will also be consulted.
The Vision Behind Bill S-233
The driving force behind Bill S-233 is Independent Senator Kim Pate, who was appointed on the advice of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Pate’s vision for the program includes extending this guaranteed income to a wide spectrum of individuals, encompassing temporary workers, permanent residents, and refugee claimants.
While this proposal has garnered support, it has also faced criticism, notably from individuals like Jack Fonseca of Campaign Life Coalition. Fonseca raises concerns about the potential implications of a universal basic income (UBI) system. He fears that it might discourage work and lead to some individuals engaging in less productive activities. Additionally, private sector employers and job-creating businesses may face increased taxation, potentially discouraging investment in job creation and business expansion.
The economic implications of a UBI system are a point of contention. Proponents argue that it could significantly reduce poverty rates. For example, Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux estimated that implementing a guaranteed basic income program with an annual payout of nearly $17,000 could cut poverty rates in half. However, this would come at a substantial cost, with the federal government needing to allocate $85 billion to fund the program.
Prior Experience: CERB
Canada has previously implemented programs to address economic challenges, such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). CERB provided monthly payments of $2,000 to Canadians affected by COVID-19 restrictions. It’s important to note that experiences with such programs may influence public perception of a broader UBI system.
Balancing Inflation and Intervention
One of the primary concerns surrounding Bill S-233 is the potential for increased government intervention and control over personal finances. While there is a genuine desire to alleviate poverty and improve living conditions, there is skepticism about the extent to which such a program should be implemented and the consequences it may bring.
Finance Minister’s Role
The bill assigns the role of overseeing this initiative to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland. Her past actions, such as demanding bank account freezes without a court order during the Freedom Convoy protest, have raised questions about her approach to managing financial matters.
Global Context: The Great Reset
The global context adds another layer of complexity to the debate. Critics argue that a UBI program may be part of a broader agenda, such as the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) “Great Reset,” which envisions a more authoritarian system. It is essential to consider the broader context of global economic and political trends.
Bill S-233 represents a significant step toward addressing economic inequality and poverty in Canada. While supporters believe it has the potential to be a game-changer, critics raise concerns about its economic implications and broader political agendas. As this bill progresses through the legislative process, its fate will ultimately depend on how these complex issues are navigated and addressed. The conversation around a guaranteed basic income is far from over, and its outcome will shape Canada’s social and economic landscape.