Time for a guaranteed income for Canadians.

It is surprising how often the suggestion for a guaranteed annual income system for Canada comes up. While scoffed at by the political right wing, they need to realize how much money it would save.

Liberals and left of centre parties have long been advocates of this major change. An annual guarantee would eliminate the myriad safety net type programs that we have built to help individuals. You could start by taking Unemployment Insurance off the table once and for all and save the vast amounts it takes to collect, administer and dole out. It could also change the Canada Pension Plan in its present form, as well as eliminate the mix of programs to support the young, the ill, the infirm, the challenged, and the old in our society. And we do not need to do it just because it is the humane thing to do. A guaranteed income covers the gaps between programs and nobody falls down the cracks.

The very real pressure would be on society to produce the national income to sustain the program at optimum levels. The challenge to businesses both large and small would be to make work attractive and rewarding. Some people would be able to devote a lifetime to learning, to the arts and to what today are considered hobbies. Volunteerism would become a larger stratum of society as people choose to devote their time to helping others. And there is really no end to what people can do and the incentives would become more flexible to ensure balance and progress.

Much of the pressure would come off society as the guaranteed income program became more self regulating and adjustable to meet social needs. The role of government would become more future oriented to build infrastructure needed for emerging social needs.

One of the side benefits of a guaranteed annual income would be the ability of Canadians to return to the concept of self-reporting of their annual tax return. As things stand today, our tax system is so hopelessly mired in complex credits, exceptions, rulings, and interpretations that the idea of an individual doing their own income tax calculations is becoming a more remote possibility. Even the experts are plugging the basic numbers into expensive computer programs and hoping the calculations are close to right.

Parliamentarians from both House and Senate are today speaking out in favour of at least studying the concept of a guaranteed annual income. It is time that a forward thinking government paid attention.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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