The government’s plan to invest $225,000 to develop a PEI secure-income pilot falls way short of what is realistically needed.
From the scant details available on the project, slated to be introduced in January 2020, 400 Islanders will benefit with a top-up to their income for a three month period.
It works out to a little more than $500 for each person.
It is doubtful this will accomplish much. For people who have been living in poverty for an extended amount of time $500 is not going to improve their standard of living and three months is certainly not enough time to make a plan.
And just who will be singled out to receive this meager top-up? Surely there are more than 400 individuals on PEI who are already receiving social assistance and/or are the working poor.
By the time January 2020 rolls around there will undoubtedly be more people without the proper supports to help dig their way out of poverty.
Big (Basic Income Guarantee), a system where everyone is guaranteed to have an income of a certain level, is an idea whose time has come.
Over four years ago the PEI Working Group for a Livable Income brought their platform for such an idea to the public.
Provincial political parties were happy to put their support behind the idea at the time and even went so far as asking the feds to help.
But when the answer was no the then Liberal government quashed the idea.
Now the new government is following suit. What they should be doing is not asking, but crafting a plan the feds couldn’t possibly turn down.
BIG would bring dignity to the system we now have where people are forced to reveal every aspect of their daily lives to receive funds to just pay their bills.
The secure-income pilot looks to be yet another addition to an already tangled safety net Islanders have to try to access when they desperately need help.