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Will there be a Basic Income in BC? Short answer "no."

29 January 2021 12:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

The long-awaited report of the BC Expert Panel on Basic Income was released this week. The Panel suggests that a basic income would not be ideal, but provided recommendations for significant changes to the social safety net. If ratified, this will have a significant impact on the employment services sector. 

In short, here is the summary of 65 recommendations (pp. 39-42):

Reform Disability Assistance (DA) into a targeted basic income

  1. Replace disability-related designations
  2. Reform application process
  3. Revise application forms
  4. Eliminate DA asset test
  5. Relax DA income test
  6. Reform adjudication process
  7. Eliminate reassessment
  8. Convert DA to a targeted basic income
  9. Increase DA benefit to the poverty line
  10. Lower DA benefit reduction rate and maintain income exemption
  11. Create public and community employment
  12. Integrate support for addiction and mental health
  13. Review addiction support

Reform Temporary Assistance (TA) to reduce the “welfare wall”

  • Eliminate work-search requirement
  • Engage federal government on COVID-19 recovery benefit rationalization
  • Initially maintain current TA income test
  • Increase TA income test threshold in medium term
  • Eliminate TA asset test
  • Extend TA streamlined reapplication
  • Increase TA benefit levels by making COVID-19 emergency $300 supplement permanent
  • Lower TA benefit reduction rate and maintain income exemption
  • Evaluate training support
  • Expand earnings supplement

Provide extended health-care benefits to all low-income individuals

  • Convert extended health supplements to a basic service
  • Provide housing support to all low-income renters
  • Combine Income Assistance support and shelter allowances
  • Expand targeted supportive housing
  • Institute a B.C. Rent Assist refundable tax credit

Provide intensive work support to targeted groups

  • Establish Assisted to Work basic service
  • Establish a joint rehabilitation and work support agency

Enhance support for low-income families with children

  • Refocus the Child Opportunity Benefit

Enhance financial and support services for young adults

  • Increase Ministry of Children and Family Development resources
  • Enhance transition planning and community support capacity
  • Extend Agreements with Young Adults education and training duration
  • Enhance Agreements with Young Adults life-skills support
  • Extend Assisted to Work eligibility to former youth in care
  • Create targeted basic income for former youth in care
  • Initiate basic income with community support engagement
  • Mandate a ministry to support former youth in care
  • Establish a B.C. Learning Bond
  • Contribute to B.C. Learning Bond for children in care
  • Create a B.C. Career Trek program

Enhance financial and support services for people fleeing violence

  • Enhance housing for people fleeing violence
  • Create a three-tiered domestic violence program

Improve precarious employment through labour regulation reform

  • Develop gig work employment standards
  • Review Employment Standards Act exclusions
  • Enhance proactive Employment Standards Act enforcement
  • Improve employment standards for fissured work
  • Review Labour Relations Code unionization provisions
  • Proactively facilitate industry advisory councils
  • Extend Labour Relations Code successor rights
  • Rationalize employee definitions across programs

Improve the way benefit delivery platforms function

  • Combine refundable tax credits into Dogwood Benefit
  • Rationalize income definition for income-testing purposes
  • Engage federal government to reduce tax-filing barriers
  • Engage federal government to increase tax and benefit delivery responsiveness
  • Engage federal government to streamline administrative tax data–sharing
Develop an identification and verification platform for non–tax filers to increase benefits access
  • Automate informing applicants of eligibility for other programs
  • Enhance cross-program system navigation
  • Establish system governance
  • Index Income Assistance rates to changes in the poverty line
  • Increase Income Assistance staff resources
  • Rigorously evaluate major reforms
  • Create linked administrative data for policy development

Make ongoing engagement a permanent part of all policies

  • Set up a human rights-based approach to engagement with those affected
Clearly, there is a lot to unpack here but I think from a social care perspective, we can see that the report outlines forward-thinking for some of the wicked problems that we need to solve as a society. Thank you to basic income panel members for their hard work and to the provincial government for investing in this project.

Janet Morris-Reade

300 - 722 Cormorant Street | Victoria, BC | V8W 1P8

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Telephone: 250-382-9675

Email: info@aspect.bc.ca

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