The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives reports that poverty costs British Columbia close to $9 billion each year due to increases in crime, health care, and social services, as well as lost productivity. It makes fiscal, economic, and social sense, therefore, for B.C. to adopt a poverty elimination strategy.
I have long been an advocate of a “minimum social payment” or MSP for Canadians. Anyone’s whose income falls below a certain threshold would qualify for the MSP. The benefits of this program are numerous including:
• It would force employers to raise wages above the MSP threshold which would in effect eliminate jobs that keep people in a cycle of perpetual poverty.
• The MSP can be administered through the federal income tax system.
• There would be no need for welfare offices.
• The MSP would carry less stigma. It would be no different than receiving a federal GST cheque or Child Tax Benefit.
• The MSP would be tax free.
• The MSP would be an efficient way to eliminate poverty as the poor could simply buy what they need. This would stimulate the economy.
• The MSP would be targeted to those in financial need and would not be an expensive new universal social program which costs billions of dollars to sustain over the long term.
• The Canada Revenue Agency can calculate a monthly benefit based on the previous year’s income tax return.
• The MSP will create a sense of common citizenship and financial security in Canada where the population at large recognizes and acknowledges the need to assist the most needy, vulnerable, and marginalized among us.
• A minimum social payment or MSP for Canadians has already proven to work. The federal CPP and OAS have lifted millions of seniors across this country out of poverty and allowed them to live with dignity.
A country as rich as Canada should ensure that everyone, including the poor, can live with dignity as well.
Alex Sangha, Delta