Towards a guaranteed livable income: CPJ’s backgrounder & position paper on GLI

CPJ believes that an income security program, or guaranteed livable income (GLI), would ensure that everyone in Canada has access to the basic necessities of life, while respecting dignity and encouraging participation in society. Poverty rates in Canada have not changed substantially in the past twenty-five years. Neither work nor social programs currently ensure that all people have enough income to meet their basic needs. Poverty has significant costs for individuals and for society, including health care, judicial costs, loss of productivity and social exclusion.

In this context, GLI could offer greater income security. Our CPJ backgrounder [PDF 541kB] offers a thorough explanation of the context of GLI and its possibility in Canada, including the values that underlie our current social assistance programs and policies.

CPJ’s public justice framework emphasizes dignity and justice within social relationships, but poverty and public policy focused on economic development both rob people of dignity and justice. A GLI with a benefit level set above the poverty line could be part of the solution, as it would decrease the financial burden of people living in poverty, allowing them greater opportunity for engagement and participation in society.

In order to achieve this, CPJ believes that a GLI must be based on a number of principles, laid out by our CPJ position paper [PDF 350kB]. These principles include: a universal program with federal and provincial components to respond to different economic realities; available to all citizens, permanent residents and refugees; set high enough to foster social participation and ensure that everyone has adequate access to food, clothing and housing; structured to recognize family composition; enveloping existing income and social assistance programs, but not all social programs, since some enabling social infrastructure is necessary for well-being; with a progressive tax system maintained for all additional income.

CPJ’s efforts right now are directed to contributing to awareness and education of both the public and policy makers through information and dialogue. With the growing appetite for a GLI at the grassroots level, CPJ is poised to make a unique contribution to the discussion as it takes shape, through our framing and suggested principles for design.

CPJ’s working documents on GLI: