Alberta Liberals are committed to making sure no one falls through the cracks. A compassionate society takes care of their vulnerable, creates opportunity for all and strives to free all citizens from poverty. We will unveil a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy during the campaign.
The Alberta Liberals support the creation of a Basic Income. This is the future of social assistance programs. Rather than a sprawling bureaucratic system that leaves many Albertans behind, a basic income promises every Albertan security and does so in a cost-efficient and flexible manner.
With a Basic Income, we can eliminate poverty, improve health care and education outcomes and stimulate economic growth.
Any policy this bold is complex. We can’t rush in. That is why we will consult with Albertans before launching a pilot project to study a Basic Income in Alberta before implementing one.
The timeline for implementation would be:
- 2 months of Consultation with Albertans and experts on a Basic Income Pilot Project.
- Within 3 months of consultations, we will launch the Basic Income Pilot Project.
- We will select participants for the program over the course of 10 months.
- We will then launch a 3-year pilot project to study the impacts of the program.
- Based on the results of the Pilot Project, a province-wide Basic Income program will be launched.
Exact details on the income threshold and income amount will need to be determined based on consultations and study. We can, however, give approximate values based on the Ontario Basic Income Pilot Project. Under that model
- Individuals earning under $34,000 per year or couples under $48,000 per year qualified.
- Singles received $16,989 per year, minus 50% of any earned income.
- Couples received $24,027 per year, minus 50% of any earned income.
The Alberta Basic Income Pilot Project will have to be a made in Alberta strategy but the Ontario model provides a good frame of reference.
Reduced Health Care Costs: Studies and surveys have shown that Basic Income programs reduced the burden on the healthcare system by improving the health of participants. Recipients have reported reduced ER visits, eating more nutritionally, and fewer health problems. 80% of Ontario participants surveyed reported reduced anxiety and 73% reported reduced depression.
Improved Economy: The Basic Income also has economic benefits. It would give Albertans more freedom to pursue job training and post-secondary studies. It will increase our skilled labour pool. A Roosevelt Institute study showed that a Basic Income could grow GDP by 12% over 8 years in the United States.
100 Canadian CEOs stated in an open letter that Basic Income can address emerging economic problems such as underemployment and automation.
Crime Reduction: The link between crime and poverty is well known. Nearly all inmates in Canada come from the 10% of Canadians living below the poverty line. Reducing poverty reduces crime. Jurisdictions that have brought in a Basic Income have seen crime rate reductions as high as 40%.
Education: Studies have shown, including here in Canada, that there is a link between basic income and improving high school graduation rates and test scores.
The Alberta Liberals will double the funding for new affordable housing over the next five years. We would also put forward an additional $50 million directed towards repairing and upgrading existing affordable housing facilities.
Addressing homelessness frees up healthcare beds and reduces mental illness, crime, addiction and violence. As a society, we should know by now that if we fail to invest in its eradication today, the result will be considerably higher social costs down the road. Despite this, past governments have failed to meet Alberta’s ten-year goal to eliminate homelessness and have passed on costs and responsibilities to municipalities.
The Alberta Liberals support indexing AISH to inflation. The NDP Government should have done this immediately upon being elected instead of waiting nearly four years and finally caving after political pressure overwhelmed them. Alberta's most vulnerable disabled people had to wait nearly seven years for a measly $93 increase from this NDP Government.