New basic income program | More generous benefits for the poor

(Quebec) Around 84,000 welfare recipients will receive more generous benefits starting Jan. 1ah January as part of a new program in preparation since 2017. However, these benefits will be below the minimum income threshold required to meet basic needs.

Posted at 6:00 am

Tommy Chouinard

Tommy Chouinard
The press

In conversation with The pressMinister for Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity Jean Boulet officially announces that the “basic income scheme” will come into force next year, a decision approved by the Council of Ministers on Wednesday.

“It’s a significant social advance” that “benefits the most vulnerable people in Quebec society,” he claims.

The new program is aimed at people with significant limitations in gainful employment, such as a physical or mental disability. These people are currently receiving social solidarity benefits – part of social assistance. They will be automatically transferred to the new program if they have received at least five and a half years of welfare in the last six years. This is currently the case for 84,000 people.

Under the new program, the benefit will increase from $1,400 to $1,475 per month starting on January 1stah January up 5.4%. The sum is also indexed by the consumer price index to adjust for runaway inflation.

Welfare recipients who have severe employment limitations and have been on welfare for less than five and a half years will receive $1,138 at this time and will benefit $1,475 once they are 66 months old.

A program that is not new

Philippe Couillard’s Liberals had passed legislation in 2018 aimed at gradual increases in benefits and the entry into force of the basic income program in 2023, a timeline the Legault government respects. Quebec expects to invest an additional $1 billion since 2018 to incrementally improve services by 40%.

The new program represents an additional investment of $374.4 million over the next five years, according to Jean Boulet. In addition to the new benefits, various rules have been relaxed: A person can have up to $13,656 in annual earned income without being will result in a corresponding reduction in their benefit (the threshold is currently $2,600).

A first step

In 2017, Quebec sought to deploy the new program to meet the market basket measure, which is the level of income needed to meet basic needs. We were talking about $18,369 per year for a single person in Montreal at the time, based on Statistics Canada data. The new benefits announced by Mr. Boulet are $17,700 annually.

In 2020, Statistics Canada revised the thresholds for market basket measures. The basic needs income has increased to $20,080, still for a single person living in the metropolitan area. Note that of the 84,000 people who will benefit from the new program, 93% live alone.

Jean Boulet acknowledges that “there is still a lot to do”. “I intend for us to have constant follow-up to adjust to reality,” he adds. At the same time, the defined financial framework must be respected. »

The minister pointed out that in addition to the new program, which is among the most generous in Canada, special services will be offered to the most disadvantaged, such as the purchase of glasses or dental care.

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