Towards A Basic Guaranteed Income
John lives on $537 a month. That’s the amount a single person on income assistance in New Brunswick receives each month today. The average rent for a one bedroom apartment in Fredericton is $710. So how does he live?
It would help if John could share an apartment and split the rent. However, according to the Household Income Policy (HIP); sharing an apartment is considered an “unfair economic advantage”, so it is not allowed.
John has no option but to live in a rooming house that costs approximately $400 a month. That leaves him with $137 monthly for everything else: food, clothing, heat, the basic necessities of life.
Statistics Canada considers a person to be low income if s/he lives below $22,133 a year. John lives on $6,444 a year. This is extreme poverty.
John is also never going to be able to work. He is one of the 80% of income assistance recipients who are deemed unable to work, whether it be because of physical, mental or intellectual disabilities.
Those numbers are going to go up as automation eliminates jobs and creates even more unemployment. We must move away from income assistance and towards basic guaranteed income: a right for every citizen to be able to live whether they work or not.
John will never transition out of assistance. There is no reason to give John an income that enforces poverty. We can do better. We must do better.