David Coon calls for basic income guarantee to replace social assistance
Coon tabled a bill on Tuesday that would amend the Family Income Security Act
New Brunswick Green Party Leader David Coon would like to see a basic income guarantee replace the province's social assistance program which has led to "government enforced poverty."
"It's a different kind of social assistance system, that's for sure. It's simpler," Coon said in an interview with Information Morning Moncton.
"It doesn't have the clawbacks. It doesn't have these awful rules that really bind people in poverty and prevent them from getting ahead in any way."
Coon tabled a bill on Tuesday that would amend the Family Income Security Act, which provides funding to people who can't support themselves financially.
Coon said he'd like to adjust the act to "promote and provide income security, combat poverty in the province, and ensure that applicants and recipients are treated with dignity and respect."
He'd also like the act to allow the social development minister to form an agreement with the federal government to provide a basic income guarantee for New Brunswickers.
"I think it's something we need to experiment with here and see if it's the way we can really move people out of poverty," he said.
Coon said people who rely on social assistance receive $537 a month — a number that hasn't changed since 2014. He said it's not enough to cover housing, food, transportation and other basic necessities.
"At the very base level, people need enough money to live and they don't have it."
Coon said he doesn't have a set figure of what the basic income guarantee would be, but the amount needs to be raised so people can survive.
The author of "Disability and Deep Poverty in New Brunswick" agrees with Coon. Julie Gaudet said more needs to be done for those living with disabilities who can't work.
In her 2017 report, she suggested implementing an assured income for people with disabilities. Now she's hoping Coon's suggestions will be taken seriously.
She said the provincial government spends less on social programs, something she wants changed so people can live comfortably if they rely on social assistance.
"There's a lot of hoops to jump through, [but] once you're at that level you should get enough to cover your basic needs," Gaudet said.
"We're just talking about the minimum of food, housing, transportation — so to me it's quite unacceptable and it should be done now and there's no reason not to do this."
With files from Information Morning Moncton