P.E.I. hopes to apply CERB lessons to poverty in the province

When P.E.I.’s special legislative committee on poverty begins to meet again, members are hopeful there will be some key lessons to be learned from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Committee investigating basic income guarantee for Islanders

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government quickly developed a program to deliver money to Canadians who had lost work. (Chris Helgren/Reuters)

When P.E.I.'s special legislative committee on poverty begins to meet again, members are hopeful there will be some key lessons to be learned from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, a federal government relief program that is providing workers affected by COVID-19 with $2,000 a month.

For Hannah Bell, a Green Party representative on the committee, the key lesson of CERB is that a basic income guarantee is not a pie-in-the sky idea.

"What it does show is that, you know, after years of saying that this kind of program is just not possible, that it absolutely is and it can be rolled out really quickly," said Bell in an interview with CBC Radio's Island Morning, alongside Liberal MLA Gord McNeilly and Social Development Minister Ernie Hudson.

McNeilly says he is looking forward to seeing how CERB plays out in the long term.

"We haven't seen the full cycle," said McNeilly.

"We're still in the process of giving out important and necessary funding to Canadians, but how do we pay for it when the revenues have gone down as a nation?"

Hudson said there is no doubt there will be important lessons to be learned from CERB, as well as the many provincial programs rolled out in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"What the positives were, where the drawbacks may have been, and take that forward in the recommendations that we ultimately bring forward to the legislature," said Hudson.

The special committee on poverty was originally expected to give its recommendations on a basic income guarantee to the legislature by July, but all party legislative work has been suspended since mid-March.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Island Morning


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?