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New Basic Income Report Charts a Path for Prince Edward Island

November 26, 2023

Canada’s smallest province could become the demonstration project for a national basic income benefit available for all Canadians who need it.

MEDIA RELEASE: “This morning, leading basic income experts released a new report called A Proposal for a Guaranteed Basic Income Benefit in Prince Edward Island. This report presents a basic income model for a fully-funded 5-7-year demonstration program in PEI, which would considerably reduce poverty for Islanders while being more cost-effective than previously presented models. Championed by public servants, politicians, and advocates from PEI and across the country, this report is the outcome of more than 2 years of collaboration and will help guide crucial conversations on poverty reduction and income assistance in PEI and across the country. 

 “This report establishes beyond doubt that a province-wide guaranteed basic income in PEI is feasible and realistic,” says Jane Ledwell, member of the PEI Working Group for a Livable Income, who endorse the report. Ledwell notes that “with this proposed model for basic income, low-income Islanders who constantly fall through the cracks of social welfare systems would gain an income floor and the security to live in good health and dignity.” 

The report calls for the government of PEI to begin immediate negotiations with the federal government for the development and implementation of a basic income guarantee demonstration program. Building on the work of the Special Committee on Poverty in PEI, and in support of the statement in the current Mandate Letter to the Minister of Social Development and Seniors to “continue to advocate the federal government in pursuing a joint pilot program for a basic income guarantee,” this report presents a basic income design that considerably reduces poverty for Islanders. 

 The Honourable Wayne Easter, former PEI MP and former Chair for the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, is a member of the report project team. He states that “basic income is a policy whose time has come. I believe it will improve our social and economic policy. With full legislative backing from the province, the federal and provincial governments must implement a minimum 5-year demonstration basic income guarantee and measure the results in real time. This report provides the basis for that project.” 

Bruce Stanton, also a report project team member, and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons notes that PEI is an excellent place for a basic income demonstration in Canada: “PEI’s mixed economy, size, and social cohesion make it the ideal place in Canada to have a demonstration project. The people of PEI value finding new and better ways to deliver effective, affordable services. It is why all parties endorsed the PEI Special Committee’s recommendation for a basic income project. We know investments in people and communities more than pay for themselves over time” Stanton concludes. 

Read the final report here.

The report out Wednesday says how much program would cost and how to pay for it, with the federal government paying the bulk of the cost. The proposal outlines how a five- to seven-year demonstration program might work in the province, …

Read the CBC News story Guaranteed basic income could cut poverty by 80%” here.