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Ottawa is handing out $2,000 cheques to out-of-work Canadians. Could a basic income be next?

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Peter Martin doesn’t get it.

Workers who have suddenly lost their livelihoods due to the COVID-19 crisis will soon be receiving $2,000 a month from Ottawa to keep them afloat.

And yet Martin, 59, a former constitutional lawyer who lost everything about a decade ago after a mental breakdown, struggles to survive on just $1,169 a month from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), the province’s welfare program for the disabled.

“It’s a very frustrating situation,” he said this week from his Junction-area apartment where he is self-isolating with his black cat.

“They are getting $2,000 when they have a house to live in and supports and sometimes savings — as opposed to people like us who live cheque to cheque,” he said.

Martin and other Canadians on social assistance live between 40 and 60 per cent below the poverty line and are forced to rely on community supports such as drop-in meal programs and food banks to survive.

As physical-distancing orders push many of those programs to close, Ontario is pumping $200 million into social service agencies to fill the gap.

But Martin wonders why there is a federal plan for workers that pays $2,000 a month and no financial help for people like him.

“They are giving money to agencies to provide food to people who come out of isolation to get it,” he said. “Why not just give the money to us so we can buy our own groceries?”

It is a question supporters of a basic income were asking long before the coronavirus struck China earlier this year and exploded into a global health crisis. And it is a demand they have since amplified through an online petition signed by more than 30,000 calling for an emergency basic income to help Canadians weather the storm.

Ottawa responded March 26 with the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB), a monthly payment of $2,000 for four months that will go to any worker who earned at least $5,000 in the past 12 months and has lost their job as a result of the pandemic.

“It’s not the unconditional basic income that Canadians across the country asked for when they signed our petition,” acknowledged Toronto businessman Floyd Marinescu, founder of UBI Works Canada, which launched the petition March 16. “But it’s a signal that our leaders recognize the value of a basic income as an economic recovery measure.

“This emergency basic income will open the door for our government to learn about the benefits of a UBI as an economic stimulus that will benefit all Canadians — and act to make it reality,” he said in a statement on the campaign’s Facebook page.

The reason unemployed workers are being treated so much better in this crisis than people on social assistance is that middle-income voters swing elections and society’s most vulnerable often don’t vote, Marinescu said in an interview.

And that is why this is a historic opportunity.

“As many as four million Canadians are going to be applying for the CERB and will see just how precarious their own situation is. With that real, lived experience, we can rally the centre to implement a basic income for everyone,” he said.

Businesses automate to survive when times are tough, and this global crisis will see even more jobs lost to automation, Marinescu added.

He predicts more than two million Canadians who will receive a temporary basic income through the CERB may not have jobs to come back to when it runs out.

“Now is the time to push for a UBI so this next recession can be shorter and we can all come out better off,” he said.

Former Tory senator Hugh Segal couldn’t agree more.

He helped design Ontario’s ill-fated basic income pilot project, introduced in 2017 by Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government in 2017 and scrapped by Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives when they swept to power in June 2018.

Because the experiment ended prematurely, the province — and researchers watching around the world — were not able to determine if sending unconditional cash payments to low-income residents improved their health, education, housing and employment prospects.

But informal surveys of those who participated showed promise. A majority who had low-wage jobs before the trial remained in the workforce. Many went back to school, and mental health improved dramatically.

Segal’s model was similar to the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors that kicks in when incomes drop below a certain level.

It brought incomes for working-age adults up to about 75 per cent of the provincial poverty line, or about $1,400 a month. Individuals with disabilities got a monthly top-up of $500. It was a stark difference compared to Ontario’s current monthly social assistance benefits of $733 for people deemed able to work and $1,169 for those with disabilities.

And unlike social assistance, Segal argues his basic income model encouraged people to work because those with annual incomes of up to $34,000 — or about $12,000 above the poverty line — would still receive some support.

On social assistance, onerous monthly reporting requirements allow people to keep just $200 in earnings a month before clawbacks. It means someone on Ontario Works (OW) deemed employable can earn only $1,666 a month — or just under $20,000 a year — before they get kicked off.

Compared to the $100-billion-plus COVID-19 federal relief package, the Parliamentary Budget Office in 2018 estimated it would cost Ottawa just $43 billion in new funding to provide a national, guaranteed minimum income, similar to the one Ontario was testing. And it would support about 7.5 million working-age Canadians.

Segal, the Matthews Fellow in Global Public Policy at Queen’s University, says the global pandemic highlights the vulnerability of precarious workers and people with disabilities struggling to survive on social assistance.

“Once the pandemic is under control and people can relax a bit, the public and policy-makers will be taking a hard took at what went wrong and what we could do better,” he said in an interview.

“And one area for reform is the lack of agility our existing social cash-transfer systems have with respect to getting money to low-income people quickly when necessary,” he said.

Polling shows close to 70 per cent of Canadians support basic income, Segal noted.

“We already have a basic income for children through the Canada Child Benefit and the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors and a tiny bit of help for low-income people through the GST tax credit,” he said.

“It’s not really the world’s largest construction job to put those things together and find a way to do this through a basic income guarantee for all … It’s just a question of political will.”

Public sector unions and those who worry about the collapse of social programs will oppose it, he predicted, as will those who argue paying people to do nothing will cause them to abandon the labour force.

But basic income is about more efficient cash transfers to people, not about cutting services, Segal said. And 70 per cent of people living in poverty have a job, he noted. Often more than one. A basic income could supplement that low-wage work and lift them out of poverty, he said.

The other roadblock will be government finance officials who would see such a large, annual expenditure as a limit on their ability to design and craft new initiatives, Segal said.

“Those three groups of opponents are going to be just as dug in after (the pandemic) as they are now,” he predicted.

Adding to the challenge, will be the call for fiscal restraint to bring down a deficit that will likely top $200 billion due to the crisis.

But in a minority government anything can happen, Segal said, suggesting the NDP and others could make basic income a condition of support.

“I remain really optimistic,” he said. “But I think we have to be realistic about the constraints that we’re going to have to face.”

University of Manitoba economist Evelyn Forget’s research on Manitoba’s minimum basic income experiment in the late 1970s has been a major force behind renewed interest in the concept. One of her promising findings from the rural town of Dauphin, where most low-income families received the benefit, was a drop in hospital admissions and an increase in high school graduations.

Basic income is always discussed during times of economic collapse, most recently during the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, she noted.

But once the economy recovers, the idea falls by the wayside.

“One of the things we are seeing now is how limited existing programs are, and how hard it is to make them work together to make sure nobody falls through the gaps,” she said in an interview from Winnipeg.

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“It’s because we don’t have a basic income. That’s going to be hard for people to ignore going forward,” she predicted. “The limitations of those programs are becoming very, very apparent.”

Basic income could gain more acceptance after the pandemic if today’s economic measures to support business and ordinary Canadians are successful — and remain popular with the public, she predicted.

“But we are at a point where things could go in either direction,” she said.

If the government’s action is shown to be excessive or wasteful, the idea of more broader basic-income-type measures could fizzle.

“One hopes basic income doesn’t have to wear any mistakes they might make,” she added.

Economist Armine Yalnizyan, however, says a basic income for everyone is the last thing Canada needs when the crisis is over.

“Basic income helps people make the choice of not going to work,” said Yalnizyan, the Atkinson Charitable Foundation’s fellow on the future of workers.

“And when this is over, we are going to need all hands on deck. We can already anticipate labour shortages in the essential services and non-profit sector, in health care, child care, first responders — work that robots can’t do.”

For Yalnizyan and labour activists, basic services — child care, pharmacare, dental and vision care and more affordable, reliable public transit — are a better bet for the same public investment.

Building a robust system of basic services for everyone will grow the middle class and allow its members to spend money on more discretionary items, she argued.

With an aging society, Canada will need its working-age population to have enough discretionary income to keep the economy growing, she added.

“Yes, we have to focus on the most vulnerable. Yes, we have to stabilize the economy from the bottom up. Yes, we have to fill in the cracks in the floor so the whole building doesn’t collapse,” she said, noting governments are scrambling to do that now in the eye of the pandemic.

“But when we get through to the other side … we have to also set our sights on making sure those who are able to work, and can work full-time, are working. And that their work is valued.”

Increasing incomes — valuing the caring work that this crisis has highlighted — is a better economic strategy than giving people basic incomes to bolster lousy pay, she argued.

Toronto social policy expert John Stapleton is also a skeptic who says a basic income for every Canadian from cradle to grave would “never fly,” particularly with seniors who would oppose any attempt to tinker with their hard-earned benefits.

But the former provincial social services bureaucrat says the pandemic may provide an opening for a less overbearing and dehumanizing welfare system.

The ministry’s move in March to suspend monthly income reporting for people on social assistance during the crisis — largely due to the need for physical distancing — brings the program one step closer to a basic-income-type delivery model, Stapleton said.

“It could be the beginning of streamlining the system and making it less onerous on people and (case) workers,” he said. “It’s kind of like basic income through the back door.”

Yalniyzan agrees that COVID-19 may force governments to rethink support to the most vulnerable working-age adults, those who are too ill to work or who can’t work full-time. And a federal program, based on a basic income, may be the way to go.

“Through this experience, more eyes have been opened to the reality facing a lot of our neighbours,” she said. “And we have seen in real time our ability to respond together when we view ourselves as in it together.”

The question is whether that sense of solidarity will last.

Peter Martin certainly hopes so.

In ordinary times, Martin pays $740 of his $1,169 monthly ODSP cheque on rent and about $300 on medical marijuana to control his severe PTSD. The remaining $129 goes toward transportation to the Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre (PARC) for meals and socialization and where he earns $30 a week as a peer support worker.

But to keep staff and community members safe, PARC has suspended all peer support work and is limiting drop-in meals to people who are homeless.

Martin is paying a friend to buy him groceries out of the money he usually spends on TTC fare while he self-isolates due to an underlying health condition that makes him vulnerable to the virus.

“There are an awful lot of people on ODSP right now who are really, really scared,” he said. “We’re talking about not paying our rent because we need to buy food.”

Martin admires the heroism of health-care workers and others on the front lines helping the sick and vulnerable. And he is buoyed by the collective concern of Canadians “pulling together” to get through the crisis.

“But for people like us, this is not a crisis,” he said. “It is just another crisis.

“I just hope people remember us when this is over.”

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Market Insight, COVID-19 Impact, Competition and Forecast (2020-2025)

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New York, June 03, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Reportlinker.com announces the release of the report “Global Smart Education Market: Analysis By Component (Hardware, Software, Service), End User (Academics, Corporate), End User Sub segments, By Region, By Country (2020 Edition): Market Insight, COVID-19 Impact, Competition and Forecast (2020-2025)” – https://www.reportlinker.com/p05903659/?utm_source=GNW
The other factors driving the growth of the smart education market include the proliferation of connected devices in the education sector, adoption of eLearning solutions, and growing use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) in smart learning.

The global education industry is undergoing a significant transition, as primary and secondary school districts, colleges and universities, as well as governments, corporations and individuals around the world are increasingly recognizing the importance of using technology to more effectively provide information to educate students and other users.

Most governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions in an attempt to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. These nationwide closures are impacting over 91% of the world’s student population. Several other countries have implemented localized closures impacting millions of additional learners. However, COVID-19 has created a new normal for the higher education sector, revolutionizing the online learning landscape, reshaping application processes, and refreshing crisis management strategies.

Besides software segment, the hardware component is expected to experience notable shift in its trajectory, registering a CAGR of x% in the market for smart education over the forecast period. APAC region is anticipated to grow with the fastest rate during forecast period and China is a key market for smart education in APAC region.

Scope of the Report
• The report analyses the Smart Education Market by Component (Hardware, Software, Service).
• The report assesses the Smart Education market by End User (Academics, Corporate).
• The report assesses the Smart Education market by Academics Subsegment (K-12, Higher Education).
• The report assesses the Smart Education market by Corporate Subsegment (SMEs, Large Enterprise, Government).
• The Global Smart Education Market has been analysed By Region (Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, MEA) and By Country (United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, France, U.K, China, Japan, India).
• The key insights of the report have been presented through the frameworks of SWOT and Porter’s Five Forces Analysis. Also, the attractiveness of the market has been presented by region, Component and End User. Also, the major opportunities, trends, drivers and challenges of the industry has been analysed in the report.
• The report tracks competitive developments, strategies, mergers and acquisitions and new product development. The companies analysed in the report include Boxlight Corp., Blackboard Inc., Cisco Systems, Pearson, Adobe Inc., Smart Technologies, Ellucian, Instructure Inc, Educomp Solutions Ltd, NIIT Limited, Saba Software Inc.
• The report presents the analysis of Smart Education market for the historical period of 2015-2019 and the forecast period of 2020-2025.

Key Target Audience

• Smart Education Vendors
• Consulting and Advisory Firms
• Government and Policy Makers
• Investment Banks and Equity Firms
• Regulatory Authorities
Read the full report: https://www.reportlinker.com/p05903659/?utm_source=GNW

About Reportlinker
ReportLinker is an award-winning market research solution. Reportlinker finds and organizes the latest industry data so you get all the market research you need – instantly, in one place.

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Sacré-Cœur student Katiya Gareau-Jones one of 5 Canadian students to win $25K NSERC bursary

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Katiya Gareau-Jones, a Grade 12 student at École secondaire du Sacré-Cœur, is among the five students in Canada to receive an Ingenium-NSERC Steam Horizon Awards in recognition of the excellence in STEAM fields: science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics. 

This soon-to-be ES du Sacré-Coeur graduate will receive a $25,000 bursary which will go towards her post-secondary education. 

This national excellence award is designed to help set the stage for a new generation of Canadian innovators to excel in the STEAM fields.

Gareau-Jones stands out for her academic excellence, her academic and community involvement as well as for her success in sports, said a press release from the French Catholic school board.

Proud of her Cree heritage and committed to promoting the richness of First Nations cultures, she sits on the Conseil scolaire catholique Nouvelon’s Native Advisory Committee and is the Youth Ambassador of the “I Love First Peoples” campaign in Greater Sudbury. 

Having launched her company called KK’s Healthy Paws in the summer of 2018, Gareau-Jones was able to sell dog and cat treats at a local farmers market. 

Interested in structural engineering, Gareau-Jones will pursue her studies in this field at Cambrian College before heading to Lakehead University.

“It is with a feeling of great pride that we see Katiya, a former École St-Augustin (Garson) student and soon-to- be graduate of ÉS du Sacré-Coeur (Sudbury), stand out at the national level in light of her academic successes and community contributions,” said Paul Henry, CSC Nouvelon Director of Education, in a press release.

“An active leader in her school and community, this student is committed to improving the lives of her fellow citizens and investing in collective projects. Bright and articulate, Katiya takes great pride in her French, Catholic and Cree heritage and is making a difference in her community.”

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Coronavirus: What’s happening around the world Wednesday

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The latest:

The president of the UN Economic and Social Council is calling for urgent action to help the growing number of countries already facing or at risk of “debt distress” because of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Norway’s ambassador to the UN, Mona Juul, head of the 54-member council, told a meeting Tuesday on financing for the coronavirus crisis and recovery that the decision by the world’s 20 major economic powers to freeze debt service payments for the world’s poorest countries through the end of the year isn’t enough.

She said the Group of 20’s suspension will free about $11 billion US until the end of the year, but it’s estimated that eligible countries have an additional $20 billion in multilateral and commercial debt combined coming due this year.

Juul said that means even if the moratorium is extended to 2021, “many countries will have to make difficult choices between servicing their debt, fighting the pandemic, and investing in recovery.”

According to Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, which has been tracking coronavirus cases, there are nearly 6.4 million cases worldwide, with more than 380,000 deaths. 

The U.S. accounts for more than 1.8 million of those cases, with more than 106,000 deaths.

As of 11:15 a.m. ET, Canada had 93,039 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with 50,684 of the cases considered recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial data, regional information and CBC’s reporting stood at 7,539.


Here’s a look at what’s happening in Canada with COVID-19

WATCH | Social disparities have significant impact on access to health care:

Black Americans are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, says Toronto respirologist Dr. Samir Gupta, while noting that similar data is not available for Canada. 6:18

COVID-19, the illness caused by a novel virus that was first reported in China and has since spread around the world, causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

Researchers are searching for treatments and a vaccine, but to date, there are no proven treatments. Read on for a look at what’s happening around the world on Wednesday.

Germany’s government says it plans to lift a travel warning for European countries on June 15 — but it may still advise against travel in some cases, for example, to Britain if quarantine rules there remain in place.

Germany issued a warning against all nonessential foreign travel in March. The aim is to change that for Germany’s 26 European Union partners, other countries outside the EU that are part of Europe’s passport-free Schengen travel area and Britain.

People wait to check in for a flight to Dusseldorf, Germany, at Rome’s Fiumicino airport on Wednesday. Several countries in the European Union are contemplating new travel rules as the number of cases of COVID-19 decreases. (Alessandra Tarantino/The Associated Press)

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Wednesday that the warning would be replaced with more conventional travel advice “so long as there are no longer entry bans and no large-scale confinement” in the countries concerned. He said all countries except Norway and Spain, where entry restrictions are expected to last longer, now fulfil those conditions.

Maas said that the new travel advice won’t amount to “an invitation to travel,” and in some cases may advise against trips — “for instance, to Britain, so long as there is still an obligatory 14-day quarantine for everyone arriving there.”

The British government is confirming plans to impose a 14-day quarantine for people arriving in the country starting next week, despite pleas from the travel industry to drop the idea. Airlines and tour companies say the quarantine will derail plans to rebuild business. It comes as other European countries reopen their borders and ease travel restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Others say the measure comes too late. Britain’s official COVID-19 death toll stands at more than 39,000, the highest in Europe.

Tanzania is entering its sixth week without an update on its coronavirus cases as African health authorities worry and the U.S. issues a new statement of concern.

The East African nation’s data has been frozen at just over 500 cases since the end of April as the government of President John Magufuli claims the virus has been defeated. The opposition, however, has alleged that Tanzania’s cases could be in the tens of thousands.

The latest U.S. Embassy alert, posted Tuesday, says “there have been instances during the COVID-19 outbreak when hospitals in Dar es Salaam reached full capacity because of the high volume of COVID-19 cases and that the risk of contracting COVID-19 remains high.

Workers prepare face shields from recycled plastics at the Zaidi Recyclers workshop as a measure to stop the spread of coronavirus in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in late May. The country hasn’t provided updated COVID-19 numbers in weeks. (Reuters)

The alert recommends that U.S. government personnel stay at home except for essential activities.

Tanzania, unlike many African nations, has lifted its ban on international flights. Cases across the African continent are now above 157,000.

Health officials say one more Pakistani lawmaker has died at a hospital in Islamabad after testing positive for the coronavirus. Mian Jamshed Kakakhel, who was a member of a provincial assembly in the northwest, died Wednesday. His death comes a day after two lawmakers died at different hospitals after testing positive for the coronavirus.

So far, four Pakistani lawmakers have died because of the coronavirus in the country, which recorded its highest single-day increase in infections, with 4,131 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours.

Pakistan on Wednesday reported 67 deaths in the past 24 hours from the outbreak.

Commuters make their way on a street in Karachi on Tuesday. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on Monday his government would end several months of coronavirus restrictions, even as it emerged cases of the disease are likely many times higher than previously thought. (Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images)

Critics blame Prime Minister Imran Khan for an increase in deaths and infections. They accuse him of easing restrictions last month at a time when there was a need to enforce a stricter lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.

Pakistan has recorded a total of 80,463 confirmed cases and 1,688 deaths since February.

South Korea reported 49 new cases of COVID-19, pointing to a continued resurgence of the virus as millions of children are returning to school. The figures announced by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday brought national totals to 11,590 cases and 273 deaths. All but one of the new cases were reported from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where hundreds of infections have been linked to entertainment venues, church gatherings and a massive e-commerce warehouse.

Mayors and governors in the greater capital area have shut thousands of nightclubs, hostess bars, karaoke rooms, churches and wedding halls to slow the spread of the virus.

WATCH | Are you making these mask mistakes?

But despite the spike in transmissions, the government has been pushing ahead with a phased reopening of schools, which began with high-school seniors on May 20. Nearly 1.8 million more students were to return Wednesday.

But South Korea’s education minister says 519 schools so far have been forced to go back to remote learning because of virus concerns.

The central Chinese city of Wuhan has tested nearly every one of its 11 million residents for the coronavirus in a mass effort that resulted in the isolation of 300 people, authorities said Wednesday.

The pandemic is believed to have originated last year in the industrial city that went under lockdown for 76 days to try to stop the outbreak. Wuhan still accounts for the bulk of China’s 83,021 cases and 4,634 deaths from the disease.

The testing effort carried out in the second half of May targeted every resident not already tested and excluded only children under age six.

“This is extraordinarily rare anywhere in the world,” National Health Commission expert Li Lanjuan told reporters. “It not only shows confidence and determination in the fight against the epidemic in Wuhan but has also provided reference to other cities for their prevention.”

No new cases of COVID-19 were found, although 300 people who tested positive for the virus without showing symptoms were placed in isolation.

The executive deputy mayor, Hu Yabo, said the city spent 900 million yuan ($126 million) on the tests, a “totally worthwhile” expenditure as Wuhan looks to reassure residents and people elsewhere in China and get the city’s local economy humming again, the official Xinhua News Agency quoted him as saying.

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed Australia’s economy into recession for the first time in 29 years. Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Wednesday the current June quarter will be the second in a row in which the Australian economy has shrunk. A recession is defined as at least two successive quarters of contraction.

Data released on Wednesday for the March quarter shows a 0.3 per cent contraction since the three months through December because of the destructive wildfires and the early stages of the coronavirus lockdown.

Frydenberg said the Treasury Department had advised the June quarter result will be worse.

A tattoo artist works on a client on Monday in Melbourne, Australia. Restrictions continue to ease around Australia in response to the country’s declining COVID-19 infection rate. (Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

“In response to this once-in-100-year global event, we put in place a series of health measures that have hit the economy hard,” Frydenberg said.

Australia has recorded 7,221 coronavirus cases with 26 people still in hospitals on Wednesday. There have been 102 fatalities.

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