Pandemic exposes need for basic income program, expert says

PARLIAMENT

A leading Canadian expert on government-funded basic incomes says the idea could have lessened the economic catastrophe of COVID-19.

Evelyn Forget says a basic-income program would have automatically provided help to hard-hit Canadians automatically, instead of forcing governments to rush emergency aid.

Basic income is essentially a no-strings attached benefit governments provide to citizens that sets a financial floor for individuals and families.

Forget says the Canada Emergency Response Benefit wasn't a basic-income program, and neither is the replacement known as the Canada Recovery Benefit.

She says the patchwork nature of COVID-19 financial supports has led to some people falling through the cracks.

A basic income would act as an automatic stabilizer, meaning it would expand payments when incomes crash and then roll back when things rebounded.