Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry calling for universal basic income

The Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry is advocating for a universal basic income in Saskatchewan.

The program they would like to see would include federal and provincial dollars to help those struggling to find work maintain their basic needs of life, including shelter, food, and transportation.

Advocate Peter Gilmer says there’s a lack of adequacy in the current program.

“In Saskatchewan right now, we have the Saskatchewan Income Support Program. For an individual in Regina or Saskatoon, it only allows $285 to meet all of their non-shelter-related needs,” Gilmer said. “So, food, clothing, personal and household, transportation and everything else.”

With just $860 total per month being is given to those in need if they live in Regina and Saskatoon. Gilmer says it’s even worse outside of Saskatchewan’s two largest cities.

“In rural Saskatchewan — or outside of Regina and Saskatoon — it’s actually even less, it’s $810 to cover all of those needs,” Gilmer said. “We certainly have concerns with the present system.”

While some critics would call the program a government handout or a reason for someone to not enter the workforce, advocate Peter Gilmer says it may have the opposite effect.

“One of the experiences that we have in our office for employable people is that too often, time is spent meeting the most basic needs of life, and focusing on just getting the necessities and also jumping through the hoops that are necessary to maintain a subsistence level of income.”

Gilmer adds the cost to end poverty is actually less than the cost poverty creates on the government.

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