Basic Income could work . . .

If it’s done right across the board in Canada

There are some who will immediately scoff at any mention of a Universal Basic Income for Canadians.

And, indeed, I once was one of those people – after all, just pull up your socks and get to work like the rest of us. The problem with that sentiment is it doesn’t take into consideration all the factors which inevitably impact individuals’ ability to earn a decent living.

Single-parent homes, layoffs, inflation, tax increases, interest rate hikes, rent increases, mortgage increases, mental and emotional health issues, physical limitations, and the list goes on.

I understand that within any social program providing funds to citizens there will be some that take advantage and not work. But, we already have that now, so why punish the good people who need an hand up because a few bad apples want a hand-out?

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about this topic – the first was during the first year of COVID when government spending on wage subsidies and pandemic benefits went into the stratosphere (we’re talking billions, not millions of taxpayer dollars).

However, I do have some new ideas on how a Universal Basic Income program could properly be implemented in the most bi-partisan way possible. But, before we get into that, let’s take a quick look at social protection spending in 2019 – a reasonable year to look at due to it’s lack of a pandemic. Had a working universal basic income been in place and budgeted for, the emergency financial measures would never have been needed.

Social protection spending includes programs such as Old Age Security, family benefits, disability payments and unemployment benefits. Meanwhile, there is also provincial supports that funds are spent on.

According to StatsCan, 3.4% increase in 2019 saw $4.9 billion paid out to Old Age Security (+$4.9 billion) and another $3.1 billion in family and children benefits. This doesn’t include provincial welfare spending, workers’ compensation spending, unemployment insurance, or other spending.

We checked and in 2019 the Ontario government spent $11.8 billion in welfare. There are 14.7 million people in Ontario, with around 500,000 utilizing the welfare service. That works out to about 23,000 per year per person.

Once we start adding all the benefits, all the social programs, all the provinces, we probably have more than enough funds to provide each one of the 31 million-plus adult Canadians (18 and up) with at least 20,000 per year.

Wouldn’t we all be better off with a basic income to allow people to support their families through good times and, more importantly, bad times? Rather than need to rely on welfare, unemployment insurance, food banks and other resources that destroy the confidence of the individual and add pressure to an already stressful life experience.

I prefer a Universal Basic Income program to replace the aforementioned government supports because it would allow for those who want to better themselves to have reduced stress and more focus. It could lead to a more productive workforce who, unencumbered by the worry of needing employment, would strive to do the best they could as often as humanly possible.

It would mean employees could feel secure that they could not be mistreated by employers (yes, I know all of you are absolutely awesome bosses, but not everyone is). Because if an employer would treat an employee poorly, they could just walk away and find a better job.

It would also mean employers could have a better business overall because everyone there would want to be there, not need to be there. This inevitably leads to more productivity on an individual and team basis. There are businesses out there who already know this, but it would force all of them to be this way – having successful techniques and grossing more despite themselves.

Individuals with a secure income base who can house, cloth and feed their families are also more likely to become entrepreneurs or further their education to become incredible leaders in our society. More education and a less financial burden also reduces the risk of substance abuse, suicide and crime. All a benefit to both the individual and the community.

Oh, and you want the financial side: how about more buying power as those with even a little bit extra will certainly splurge on items they might not otherwise consider purchasing. And a UBI would allow us to scrap the family supplements, old age security and Canada pension plan – those funds would just role into the UBI.

There are several other emotional, mental and societal benefits to a universal basic income being implemented, but it’s time to offer my thoughts on how it could work.

I have a few thoughts on how it can be done, but they’ll require a lot of societal and legislative changes, and my ideas are guaranteed to piss off everyone – so, I’m probably on the right track.

To implement a basic income for all, a standardized income tax across the board would need to take effect. For instance, say everyone pays ten percent of their wages to income tax. No extra EI deductions, no CPP deductions, no loop holes, no RRSP deductions, no TFSAs to hide money in, just a straight income tax payment.

But, this would also mean no exceptions: whether you make one billion dollars or one thousand, you pay ten per cent (or whatever number the economics experts would come up with) – that includes taking back 10% of your UBI if you decide to only live off of that.

This idea of a standardized tax for all – with or without a basic income – is favoured by many intelligent people I know. Some of them who would have a lot of taxes to pay but understand the value of a strong society and stronger economy.

But, with standardized mandatory taxation of all citizens, we must lower small business taxes and corporate taxes to encourage the continuation and growth of all manners of industry. This would also ensure they’re able to offer strong enough wage/benefit packages to entice employees to do the work rather than sit on the UBI. This would allow for maximum production and growth.

And with a UBI to offer the parachute funding need to feed your family, I would then suggest complete removal of a minimum wage.

This would encourage more merit-based wage scales across the country, which would then reward the hardest working and most ambitious employees who would relish the opportunity to earn more income.

Those are just a few ideas to get the conversation started. There are also some great ideas and good work being done on this topic by … Check them out when you have a chance.

I believe once the in-depth research is done, we’ll find it’s the best option for the future of our amazing nation.

Thoughts? Ideas? Send me at message at

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