Back Up, Hold On, What If…

It is June 11, 2020… A gloomy Thursday. Most of the Country is still Sheltering-in-place. Some have been working through the entire pandemic, some have been unemployed since March. But to those that were previously unemployed, claiming social assistance, disabled, seniors, homeless… your already being helped… so your last on the priority list.

To the Canadian government it’s about getting people back to work. Rush, rush, rush, let’s get it open, we’ll do it right I swear… Then comes the outbreaks, the trickled support of CERB and CEWS, along with GST boosts, Child Care boosts, we’ll get to the seniors, but first we need to dramatize in the #12Minutes of Parliament that we can’t agree, back to the drawing board.

Every MP in this country is mandated to serve all of the people they represent. But simply put, this is impossible. There is no way a MP can effect enough change to make the people happy. Not even if we did Basic Income, its a taboo subject because it can ruin your career if you try.

What if we went back into time, decided to go to another route of support. Something that, while doing the impossible, might have changed the national discussion about how well we are doing.

If we were to go back into time, back to the point where CERB was first being drafted. Instead of a CERB benefit to just those that lost their job, we had actually drafted a real Universal Basic Income Benefit, something that targeted to those under $50,000 individually, or $200,000 for a Family. This UBI had 19 funding Partners … EI, CCB, GST, CPP, GAINS, and all 14 Federal, Provinces, & Territories Governments… The goal… No matter who you are, you will survive.

The plan, was to stop the “Basic Needs” payments of the smaller programs at the end of 2020… this keeps those programs running while the government injects into the economy with a new universal benefit that doesn’t claw back a portion of your earnings that is actually supposed to help you grow to not needing it anymore. Something that can make up for more than just the lost income, but to generate growth at the same time.

To make the program fair for everyone, it was legislated to have NO restrictions for the first year. This meant that every single Canadian was eligible. It was believed that the rich would just spend it eventually, but the poor that only lived on $800 for the month would be dramatically improved overnight. More Canadians had access to funds for Medical Supplies including masks and sanitizer. The Health Crisis was eased by a little nudge in the right direction. Those that were at risk stayed home, No Insurance claim was required. No one was fired for being sick and coming in because their families lives depended on the income.

There was no forced back to work, no evictions from landlords playing dirty tricks to re-rent higher because everyone had the chance to pay their bills and keep the economy going.

The program was opposed, some felt it was too expensive. We’re talking about 37 million Canadians @ $2000/mth/person for 12 months. ~$900 Billion. Big number. However, in this scenario the government had actually taken the time to break down how to fund it. Some from the Social Services sector, uploading from provinces and municipalities which will ask for less money next year.

With combining funding from CPP, OAS, GAINS, EI, Federal Grants, Provincial Uploads, Canada Child Benefit, and more; it is about consolidation of programs, reassigning specialties to existing programs, and generating growth and regaining our GDP to new levels.

The UBI worked spectacularly. Those that didn’t have a job before, they found strength and dedication to expanding their income without the fear of losing it or if things went downhill incur claw backs at a time of unrest. If they just got the job before the pandemic it may not have been there afterwards. Too crowded. But UBI maintained their level of dignity. They kept looking.

Those that were having to live on a friends couch, all of the sudden found themselves in an opportunity to find their own home and to buy a couch of their own. Some filled the Freezer for the first time in years. Morale in the Country was at an all-time high.

Small businesses who’s owners had to sacrifice their homes and create 2nd and 3rd mortgages just to pay the rent at the store they just opened last year, now had the UBI to back their mortgage so they didn’t default. This saved your local Bagel joint. Morale increased again because now you don’t have to go to the Drive-Thru down the street. The environment wins.

Just as Basic Income was announced, the media started covering stories such as “Now what about the smaller programs? How do they survive? “
“I was getting way more than this with smaller programs so how can I support it? ”
“I don’t want just one check, I want it spaced out”…
The government responded with ears open this time. They exempted it in the first year by declaring it an “Essential Benefit” which empowered it to boost benefits not deny them. The people rejoiced that the Government listened.

The following year, the Gov’t cheered. The economic forecasts were strong. Tax collection was up from Sales taxes, Justice&Peace departments were no longer asking for 2-5% increases but lowering their budgets, racial inequality was being lowered, sex-based wage-gaps were decreasing, the news wasn’t covering how expensive it was, it’s now covering how much it has saved.

The morning news report wasn’t about gun violence, no stabbings over a home burglary, it was about a local shop who just hit their 5,000th customer. Yet unfortunately, today in the real world, that shop just closed yesterday.

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