I can’t imagine that I’m the first one to have this thought or to say it out loud, but I am a little surprised that I haven’t really heard it expressed yet.
When all of this coronavirus business blows over and things get back to normal (whatever that means), we need to think long and hard about a federal universal basic income. Something to which everyone is entitled once they hit voting age. An amount that a person can be reasonably expected to live on. Something tied to the cost of living rather than the arbitrary, out of line with reality pittance you get if you’re having to rely on a program like Ontario Works, for example. Something that will allow you to pay rent or a mortgage, to buy food and clothing, to make sure you have heat and hydro. A safety net so that people don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from if they happen to lose their job due to downsizing or a factory closure or a global pandemic. Something they can turn to if they can’t find a job once they get out of school or if there’s just no work in their field right now.
I’m sure that even after what we’re all going through now there will still be plenty of people who will crap all over an idea like this, but just think about it. Wouldn’t life be so much less stressful today if you weren’t having to deal with an overtaxed EI system? Wouldn’t you be so much happier right now if you weren’t having to navigate the rules of a slapdash emergency relief benefit that changes almost every day? If we had a single system, none of that would be a problem. We would all know what to do, because we would all be playing by the same set of rules on an equal field. It would be nice, it would be fair, and it wouldn’t be impossible. The money to make it happen is clearly there. All we need is the will.