In case you missed the fine print contained in the power-sharing agreement between the NDP and the Green Party, there is a clause calling for a ‘basic income’ pilot program that should have been a part of the new government’s first budget.
That deadline came and went without any mention of basic income in finance minister Carole James’ first provincial budget delivered this past February. The concept is fairly straightforward. It guarantees all low-income citizens a basic income without any strings attached.
Who pays for basic income? Well, you would, of course. Starting with the $4 million dollars the government announced last week to “explore the potential” of basic income. Social services minister Shane Simpson quietly disclosed a scheme this month to appoint a team of academics to come up with a plan by 2020.
Ontario already has 4,000 people taking part in a three year $150 million pilot program that provides $17,000 a year to individuals who are either unemployed or make less than $34,000 annually. Whether or not newly elected Ontario premier Rob Ford keeps the program running remains to be seen.
The best-known example of basic income is Finland where that country announced it was killing its pilot program after just two years. Switzerland also planned to institute a pilot program in 2016 but a citizens group organized a petition that forced the government to hold a referendum on basic income. It was soundly rejected by 77 percent of voters.
So if the idea of basic income has already passed its best before date, why is the government still forging ahead with a program that already failed in other countries? The answer to that is the NDP has to follow through on its promise to make the Green Party happy – again! The more I look at this power-sharing agreement between these two parties, the more of a raw deal all British Columbians are getting!
So, instead of holding a referendum on proportional representation this fall, why not ask people what they think about spending millions of tax dollars studying a dead horse?
Member of the Legislative Assembly
Peace River North