Cost of Living

Is a basic income too good — or too expensive — to be true in Canada?

As the earliest adopters of Canada's Emergency Relief Benefit brace for the four-month program to come to an end, there's a debate around whether Canada should evolve the temporary program into something more permanent.

Canada Emergency Relief Benefit success sparks argument for a more universal basic income

Part of a cheque for the $2,000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), a taxable award from the Canadian government made every 4 weeks for up to 16 weeks to eligible workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19. (Chris Helgren/Reuters)

When the Canadian economy started to shut down in March, millions of Canadians lost their source of income.

In response, the federal government stepped-in with the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB.

It's easy to qualify for the monthly $2000 cheque, with few questions asked. But the benefit only lasts for four months, and that means early applicants will run out fairly soon.

  • CBC's business and economics show, Cost of Living, is back to its regular spring timeslot on CBC Radio One. Catch it Friday May 22 at 11:30 a.m. local time, or Tuesday, May 26 at 11:30 p.m. (midnight in Newfoundland).

As the debate grows, Cost of Living executive producer Tracy Johnson digs into whether Canada should evolve the temporary program into a permanent basic income.

Click "listen" at the top of the page to hear this segment, or download the Cost of Living podcast.


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