Oct. 16, 2021

CERB – a forerunner for a guaranteed annual income?

There has been a lot of discussion in recent years of giving Canadians a guranteed annual income. It has been a pillar of NDP policy at the federal level for some time. the concept of free money without earning it.

Now that the election is over, what’s the future for the $1,200-per-month Canada Recovery Benefit? It and some mirror programs replaced the initial $2,000-per-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) in September, 2020.

Applications for the final two-week payment period is Oct. 23, meaning that if the program isn’t extended to Nov. 20, it will end by mid-November.

A large group of business, academic and political voices is asking the federal government to put an end to the CRB, claiming it’s hindering productivity and worsening labour shortages throughout the country.

Amongst other opponents: Restaurants Canada, the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. 

Quebec Premier François Legault cut right to the chase – “There was a disincentive to go work because we could receive a nice cheque easily all the while staying home. But that will end eventually,” he added. “And some people, who currently prefer staying home and receiving a cheque from the federal government, will return to work.”

If nothing else, these pandemic emergency programs give a look ahead as to how a guaranteed annual income might impact our economy. From this experience, it’s not a pretty picture.