WRITE SENATORS TO OPPOSE BILL S-233 ON UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME
WRITE SENATORS TO OPPOSE BILL S-233 ON UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME.
National Framework for a Guaranteed Livable Basic Income Bill
Bill S-233, An Act to develop a national framework for a guaranteed livable basic income, completed First Reading on December 16, 2021. Second Reading is in progress with two debates completed in the Senate on February 8, 2022 (see Video below) and February 24, 2022 (see Transcript below.)
Bill S-233 has not yet gone through the House of Commons as it originated in the Senate. If passed in the Senate, it will go to the House of Commons for approval.
You can view the text of Bill S-233 here: https://www.parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/44-1/bill/S-233/first-reading
We have prepared a template for you to email Senators to ask them to vote in opposition to universal basic income.
Here is the Letter
To: Senator _______________
I'm asking you to vote in opposition to Senator Kim Pate’s Bill S-233, An Act to develop a national framework for a guaranteed livable basic income. Senator Pate is in the Independent Senators Group and in Ontario.
The fundamental resultant changes to be determined by the Minister of Finance, currently Chrystia Freeland, to our long-standing social and economic policies are not detailed in the proposed three-page bill.
Of great concern is Content section (3)(b):
- (b) to create national standards for health and social supports that complement a guaranteed basic income program and guide the implementation of such a program in every province;
These national standards must be determined by the Minister of Finance in consultation “with the Minister of Health, the ministers responsible for employment, social development and disability, representatives of the provincial governments responsible for health, disability, education and social development, Indigenous elders, Indigenous governing bodies and other relevant stakeholders, including policy developers and political decision-makers, as well as experts in other guaranteed livable basic income programs.” What about the Canadian people?
I’m concerned that the rights and freedoms of Canadians will be compromised by yet-to-be-determined national standards. With a quick online search, one hears that the government will eventually require that people receiving benefits will have to be vaccinated. Which expert studies on UBI have been completed to date to satisfy the parliamentary process of fully examining a proposed bill before it becomes an Act? Do we need this overhaul of our social network? What is the cost?
How can Senators and MPs approve a proposed bill without providing these pertinent details? By-passing procedures and checks and balances in the parliamentary process of government jeopardizes our opportunity of achieving a Representative Democracy in Canada.
Furthermore, the recently announced Member of Parliament coalition between the elected minority government and the official opposition for a three-year period to 2025 will empower the current government to continue their agenda irrespective of the will of the people and the protection of our sovereign rights since the parties will vote in lockstep as a majority.
Please fill out the form Below
Stop Bill S-233
HELPFUL Links and Background Information:
1- You can check the progress of Bill S-233 here:
2- You can see all Bills under consideration during the 44th Parliament from November 22, 2021 to present in the Senate and House of Commons here:
3- VIDEO of Sen Pate’s Bill S-233.
February 9, 2022. Video of First Reading by Senator Kim Pate.
“Ottawa: Senator Kim Pate, fearless criminal justice advocate, opened legislation debate for basic income Senator Pate & Treaty One Territory MP Leah Gazan urge Bill S-233 Senate & Bill C-223 House of Commons.”
4- TRANSCRIPT for Bill S-233 Second Reading on February 24, 2022 from this link:
National Framework for a Guaranteed Livable Basic Income Bill
Second Reading—Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Pate, seconded by the Honourable Senator Dean, for the second reading of Bill S-233, An Act to develop a national framework for a guaranteed livable basic income.
Hon. Diane F. Griffin: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to Senator Pate’s bill, Bill S-233, An Act to develop a national framework for a guaranteed livable basic income.
The bill stipulates that the minister must develop a national framework for the implementation of a guaranteed basic livable income program throughout Canada for any person over the age of 17, including temporary workers, permanent residents and refugee claimants.
I recognize that for some colleagues the idea of a guaranteed livable income in Canada may seem radical, but I believe that implementing a guaranteed livable income would have meaningful long-term, positive impacts on Canadian life.
When I was thinking about policies that have a profound impact, what came to mind was the Canada Health Act. In a chapter of the interim report of the Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada entitled Values and How They Shape Canadians’ Views, Commissioner Roy Romanow notes:
Almost all Canadians I have heard from to date want to ensure that the poorest in our society have access to health care. They also believe Canadians should not be bankrupted by the costs of acquiring needed health care services, and that all Canadians should be protected against catastrophic illnesses and injuries. . . .
In a paper entitled Waiting For Romanow: Canada’s Health Care Values Under Fire, Arthur Schafer at the University of Manitoba notes that:
. . . it is one of the inestimable virtues of Canadian Medicare that those who lose their jobs don’t face the catastrophe of also losing their public health insurance. In good times and in bad, the principle of universality translates as health care security.
There are two additional benefits of our universal system: Canadian workers, unlike their American counterparts, are not forced, by fear of losing health insurance, to stay in jobs they hate, and thus the labour market becomes more flexible and efficient.
A good example of how health care security can result in human flourishing is Hank Green, an American author and entrepreneur who has colitis, which is extremely expensive to treat. He couldn’t get health care insurance and thought he would have to get a job at a big company so as not to go bankrupt from medical bills. But thanks to Obamacare and to legislation in Montana, Hank was able to get health insurance. In the years since, he has written two bestselling novels, started several businesses and created two educational YouTube channels called “Crash Course” and “SciShow.”
Your kids and grandkids have probably watched some of his videos. According to his brother John, today those shows reach over a million learners per day and employ dozens of people.
Over-incentivizing people to work for large companies stifles entrepreneurship and job growth. It’s not just wrong, it’s also bad business.
If an additional benefit of our universal health care system is that Canadians are not forced by fear of losing insurance to stay in jobs they hate, I submit this would also be an additional benefit of a guaranteed livable income.
There are real psychological consequences to financial insecurity. A common metric for measuring financial security is the ability to cover an unexpected expense. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, in its 2019 Canadian Financial Capability Survey, found that individuals who are living with a common-law partner, separated, divorced or who have never been married are less likely to have emergency funds to be able to cover an unexpected expense of $2,000, especially if they are lone parents. Women are less confident that they would be able to cover a sudden expense of $2,000.
The American Psychological Association notes that scarcity drains mental resources, narrowing our focus and impacting our choices; increases negative emotions which affect our decisions and its effects contribute to the cycle of poverty. Financial scarcity, the APA notes, is really problematic. When low-income people are asked to think about financial dilemmas, their problem-solving ability decreases. High-income people do not show the same effect. Chronic deprivation can diminish psychological bandwidth, harming cognitive capacity and decision-making.
Individuals without a safety net — and you’ve heard Senator Pate say this in the past, in fact, tonight — are using so much of their mental bandwidth to survive that it’s even more challenging for them to allocate bandwidth to do things that would help them to thrive.
What benefit might a guaranteed livable income have for these folks? Data from Finland sheds some light. A study by researchers at University of Helsinki paid 2,000 randomly selected unemployed people an income of 560 euros a month, with no obligation to seek a job and no reductions in their payment if they accepted one.
An article in The Guardian, in the U.K., summarized the study’s outcomes. While there was significant diversity in recipients’ experiences, they were generally more satisfied with their lives and experienced less mental strain, depression, sadness and loneliness than the control group. As for employment, researchers noted a mild positive effect in that participants also tended to score better on other measures of well-being, including greater feelings of autonomy, financial security and confidence in the future.
The improvements in mental health are particularly important to me. Unfortunately, mental health resources are scarce in our country. Addressing mental health problems that are rooted in financial insecurity by addressing the financial insecurity itself would help to take some pressure off of our overwhelmed mental health resources system.
Senator Pate’s bill is a first step. I thank her for it.
In November 2020, the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island Special Committee on Poverty tabled a report whose central recommendation was the creation of a basic income guarantee. The province of Prince Edward Island is willing and eager to play a role in developing a guaranteed livable income framework and in being the venue for a project to demonstrate its utility. We need to run this experiment, work out the mechanisms and figure out how it can be scaled up to a Canada-wide program.
In an interview with another paper called The Guardian — this time in Charlottetown — Premier Dennis King noted that a guaranteed livable income could have a positive impact on labour force participation in P.E.I. because folks wouldn’t fear losing their benefits if they picked up a part-time job. Premier King would like to see an experiment run in the province but emphasized the need for the federal government to get on board:
. . . I really wish we could find a way to get the federal government to sit down more seriously to talk to us about it.
. . . the other side of this that we need to be thinking about . . . is the labour shortage that we have. Is there a way for us to be able to change some of our programs — whether they’re social assistance or others — to allow people to work a little bit more and keep some of their money, as opposed to having these antiquated programs that actually discourage people from getting into the labour force?
In 2019 and 2020, the Honourable Ernie Hudson, then P.E.I.’s Minister of Social Development and Housing, wrote twice — twice — to his federal counterpart. This was followed by a letter from the premier to the Prime Minister to explore what a basic income might look like for P.E.I.
By the way, the P.E.I. government has not been idly sitting by while waiting for a federal partner. It has implemented a targeted basic income pilot at 85% of Market Basket Measure that supports eligible social assistance clients, youth aging out of care and Islanders with disabilities.
So far, 590 Islanders have benefited from this targeted basic income program, which has helped the people living with disabilities and limitations entering into the workforce to have their basic needs met and enjoy a better quality of life.
There is an inspirational quote that you’ve probably seen in a classroom or a fitness studio that asks: “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” I wonder what new career paths folks might try if they knew that they wouldn’t miss their rent payments if it didn’t work out. I wonder what new businesses people might open if they knew they’d still be able to buy groceries if the business didn’t turn a profit in the first few months. How might children and elders be better cared for? How might people’s mental and physical health improve?
Colleagues, I can’t wait to find out. Please join me in supporting Senator Pate’s bill so that we can make a start down this exciting path.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Hon. David Richards: Would Senator Griffin take a question, please?
Senator Griffin: Most certainly.
Senator Richards: I’ve been struggling with this for quite a while on both sides. Would the cost of living go up, in terms of interest rates and rent, for all these people without government regulations coming into play and, if so, would it be a benefit in the long run?
Senator Griffin: Senator, that is an excellent question. I’m not an economist, but the people we are asking to work this out certainly are. That’s why the premier and his minister were contacting the federal government, asking them to help them develop such a framework that would actually work out what this would look like.
We don’t want to cause inflation. We don’t want to cause rents to go up; they’ve gone up anyway, and so has all housing. We don’t want to accelerate that.
The people who have the knowledge to work on this, it’s important to bring them to Prince Edward Island to help work all of this out and then scale it up at a national level. I believe Senator Pate has already cited some examples in her second reading speech on this. I can get that for you, Senator Richards.
Senator Richards: Thank you.
(On motion of Senator Duncan, debate adjourned.)