Extra income support for hard-hit workers unlikely to stick around post-pandemic: Trudeau

The Canadian Press

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He said the benefits, as well as an extension to the wage subsidy program, a new commercial rent relief program, and extra help for companies closed by local lockdowns are all automatic stabilizers to ease conditions through the second wave of COVID-19.

The extension of the wage subsidy program to next summer won’t be official until the Senate approves the necessary legislation.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is scheduled to appear at the Senate finance committee Thursday to testify on the bill, known as C-9.

The Senate has had some of the loudest voices for the Liberals to adopt another automatic stabilizer in place of myriad benefits: a basic income program.

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

Some proponents of the idea, which Trudeau has not been publicly keen on, point to the existing suite of pandemic benefits as proof the idea works — even if experts have said the CERB and its replacements aren’t exactly a basic income.

“What we’re doing now shouldn’t be conflated with things that we might or could do in the future,” Trudeau said when asked about basic income.

“I think we have to get through this before we start designing a whole new universe of social supports.”

The parliamentary budget officer recently revised its estimates for providing a basic income for six months to almost all Canadians, projecting a cost of between $30.5 billion and $71.4 billion, down from the $47.5 billion and $98.1 billion outlined in July.

The overall cost would grow annually until it hit between $84.2 billion and $197.2 billion in 2025, depending on how much of the benefit is clawed back from people whose other incomes increase.

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