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Universal Basic Income would help seniors make ends meet — North Island-Powell River MP

Rachel Blaney writes letter to incoming Seniors Minister Seamus O’Regan
Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan rises during Question Period, Tuesday, February 7, 2023 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

To North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney, a solution to helping seniors meet their needs would be to set up a federal Guaranteed Livable Basic Income (GLBI) program.

Blaney wrote a letter to incoming Minister for Seniors and Labour Seamus O’Regan, asking him to take steps to ensure seniors are able to meet their needs. One of those steps would be to set up GLBI, which would also provide a basic income to all Canadians.

“Another policy change your government could make that would immediately raise the bar of dignity for Canadian seniors is to create a Guaranteed Livable Basic Income (GLBI),” Blaney wrote in her letter to O’Regan. “Research tells us that implementing a GLBI is a cost-saving measure. For example, it saves money on healthcare and crime rates go down. Looking after people is good economics. We saw this clearly with the pandemic financial supports in 2020 and 2021.”

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Blaney continued, saying that a fellow NDP MP Leah Gazan made a motion and private members bill in Dec. 2021.

“The bill proposes a GLBI for all people living in Canada over the age of 17, would not require participation in the workforce or an educational training program, would consider regional difference in the cost of living, and would ensure implementation does not result in clawbacks in services or benefits meant to meet an individual’s exceptional needs related to health or disability,” Gazan’s website on the subject says.

Blaney, who is the NDP’s critic for the Seniors and Labour file, wrote to O’Regan to outline her priorities for the file.

“More Canadians than ever are entering their older years. We need to be ready to meet their needs by making sure our public services and institutions are strong and prepared, and that our tax system is applied fairly to all Canadians, including single seniors and seniors who rent,” she said. “Unfortunately, Canada is not ready.”

Blaney’s suggestions also include to retroactively apply the 10 per cent increase to Old Age Security for all seniors, address the taxation imbalance for single seniors who rent and to amend the Old Age Security Act so seniors are not at risk of losing their Guaranteed Income Supplement because of paperwork.

The Office of the Minister for Seniors responded to Blaney’s letter, saying that “The first thing Minister O’Regan did following his appointment was meet with seniors to listen and understand their priorities. Minister O’Regan will continue to listen and engage with Canadian seniors, their families and their supporters to inform his work in this new portfolio, so every Canadian can age with dignity and choice.”

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