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Canada: Senator Hugh Segal on basic income and unemployment insurance

In a column for the Canadian daily newspaper National Post (June 10, 2012), long-time basic income advocate and Conservative Senator from Ontario Hugh Segal writes:

(…) It is reasonable to have an employment insurance system, funded by contributions from Canadian workers, that provides a financial bridge to those who have lost their jobs and cannot immediately find a replacement. When mildly tightening the eligibility to those who really cannot find work is controversial, however, this shows that EI stands for Extra Income, not Employment Insurance. That the income may be vital to communities, regions and lifestyles tied to seasonal jobs is not in question. But such a system is no longer insurance. It is a basic income floor unrelated to whether or when work was available.

(…) Except for Newfoundland and Labrador, all provinces pay welfare rates well beneath the poverty line, helping to feed the costly pathologies of poverty that fill our hospitals, our homeless shelters, our prisons and the tragedies of family violence and substance abuse. A frank discussion about income security, poverty and the kind of income floor that could obviate other programs that are unbalanced, expensive to operate, wasteful and disconnected from reality, is long overdue.

Full opinion piece is at:

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/06/10/hugh-segal-governments-cant-ignore-income-security-forever/

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