The Situation Room – Another income support program would add unnecessary tax burden

Mac Olsen
There’s talk in certain parts of Europe about providing an unconditional basic income for everyone of working age – but if allowed here in Canada, it would only add unfairly to our already high taxation burdens. Brian Love wrote a story about this issue, which appeared in The Globe and Mail on May 24. As per the story:

“Welfare reforms that would introduce public payment of an unconditional basic income to everyone of working age are worth exploring, but would do little to combat poverty if not financed by extra tax,” the OECD said.

Also in the story, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says, “if existing benefit systems were abolished and the funds used to pay an unconditional, flat-rate payment for all of working age, the payout would be lower than many welfare beneficiaries currently receive.”

“A BI (basic income) at socially and politically meaningful levels would therefore likely require additional benefit expenditure and thus higher tax revenues,” the OECD says.

The OECD has concluded that poverty rates would increase in Finland, France and the United Kingdom, and would remain unchanged in Italy, the story adds.

I do not want to see an unconditional basic income established here in Canada. It would be just another tax grab and put an undue burden on our incomes and standards of living.

Here are just some of the taxes and high costs we are burdened with:
. Minimum wage increases.
. Income taxes.
. Employment Insurance contributions.
. Canada Pension Plan contributions.
. Goods and Services Tax.
. Provincial Sales Tax/HST (varies by province).
. Fuel taxes.
. Alberta’s carbon tax.
. Property taxes.
. Estate taxes.

Proponents would point out that we have government support programs like the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, social assistance, child/family benefit programs and higher minimum wages to help offset income disparities and poverty.

And, governments need tax revenues for things like infrastructure repairs and improvements, health care delivery and environmental protection.

But there are downsides for those of us who are burdened with taxes and higher prices, and there are strings attached to government mandated increases in wages and social programs.

For instance, when the minimum wage goes up, guess what?

You pay high prices for meals and high food prices in the stores.

Concerning Employment Insurance, even if you meet all the criteria because of a temporary layoff or the permanent loss of your job, a bureaucrat in a government office has the final decision.

Moreover, that money that you contribute to EI may be redirected, at the whim of the Prime Minister and their Cabinet, to other regions of the country unilaterally.

Thus, you don’t get a say in applying for money that rightfully belongs to you. So much for representation with taxation.

I don’t dispute the need for taxes to pay for things like infrastructure repairs. I’m willing to pay my fair share for those things.

Nor do I dismiss the plight of those who live on social assistance or those who have to work for minimum wage. I’ve had to work for minimum wage, I know what it’s like to struggle with that standard of living.

But I am very cynical and irritated when someone proposes to get government to impose a tax for another social program that will only result in reducing my standard living – and which won’t necessarily reduce poverty or increase the standard of living for the targeted group or demographic.

If the OECD is right about the idea of an unconditional basic income, then reducing my wages and standard of living isn’t necessarily going to help those it’s targeted at. It’s only going to make everyone poorer, not richer.

And I especially resent it when government takes away my money and dictates to me that I can’t have access to it when I need it the most, i.e. Employment Insurance.

In the end, an unconditional basic income isn’t the answer to address poverty. Just as with all the other social programs we have, it will simply add an undue burden to those of us with high taxation rates already.

Just say no to any proposed unconditional basic income.

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