As you know, I was the research and evaluation chair for the Ontario basic income study. I like the idea of a basic income. I like the outcomes of a basic income. I like the fact that it does improve equity, and I like the fact that there are health and mental health outcomes as well as dignity. Dignity and social inclusion are very important.
When thinking about these things, I also like the idea of us trying to think of how.... When we're thinking of income supports, we tend to think about a level of money that we're giving people, but we never link that necessarily to the level that's needed for health. When we're thinking about how much EI people get and how much CERB people get, I'm very interested in whether that package actually allows people to be healthy, because that will help to decrease disparities.
I also think that the accessibility of the packages like the CERB and others is important. I have noticed a number of studies coming forward now and showing, for instance, that in the black population about 40% have lost income or their jobs over the pandemic, but a lower proportion of the black community than others have come forward for social assistance and have the CERB. I think there are equity problems in the accessibility of things like the CERB. Some of it is due to people not knowing their rights and some of it is due to the digital divide between people, but it's definitely there.
The big things, I would say, are the following: When when we're thinking about social assistance, can we link it to health and work out what people need to be healthy? Can we think of how we make sure it reaches the right populations and that they actually get it?
There are other things that I would suggest.