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Bill Kelly: Is Canada ready for a basic income program?

Click to play video 'The case for universal basic income in post-pandemic Canada' The case for universal basic income in post-pandemic Canada
As countries struggle with high unemployment rates and a global recession in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, debate around whether Canada should have a national basic income has resurfaced.

Speculation has it that the idea of a basic income program is on the table and being seriously considered as the Trudeau government puts the finishing touches on the upcoming speech from the throne.

You may recall that the Wynne government instituted a basic income pilot project in a handful of Ontario cities, including Hamilton, and early indications seemed to indicate that the program was having a positive impact on low-income earners.

Read more: Manitoba MP submits motion to convert CERB benefit to permanent basic income

Doug Ford promised to continue the pilot project if he formed government, but he reneged on that promise and the program died.

Too bad, because the concept of a basic income is not some crazy, left-wing idea, as some critics have characterized it.

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It was actually championed by longtime Conservative strategist and former senator Hugh Segal as a way to give low-income and challenged Canadians an opportunity to better their situation, and with an economy devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and millions of Canadians in a much more precarious situation than they were a year ago, maybe it’s time to consider a basic income program.

Click to play video 'NDP proposes guaranteed basic income for Canadians' NDP proposes guaranteed basic income for Canadians
NDP proposes guaranteed basic income for Canadians

The concept is likely to gain support from the NDP, but would the Conservatives support such a plan?

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney recently cautioned his Conservative Party that, if they ever wanted to form government, they had to stop proposing meaningless tax credits to financially challenged Canadians and offer real help.

We may soon find out if they heed that message.

Bill Kelly is the host of the Bill Kelly Show on Global News Radio 900 CHML.

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