QUÉBEC, Nov. 13, 2017 /CNW Telbec/ - The Expert Committee on Guaranteed Minimum Income released today its final report, in which it presents 23 recommendations consistent with a global vision of what would be a transformed and enhanced income system. This global vision is based on both a conceptual analysis of the very idea of guaranteed minimum income and an overall diagnosis of Québec's current income support system. The final report is accompanied by the progress report.
A conceptual analysis: the very idea of guaranteed minimum income and the principles to respect
From the outset, the Committee noted that the term "guaranteed minimum income" refers to income support systems that sometimes differ substantially from one another, depending on whether they take the form of a universal allowance, a negative income tax or a basic income support plan. The Committee wanted to focus on the essential and chose the following as the definition of guaranteed minimum income: "any system that offers a guarantee of monetary resources for all, with the amount of those resources being related to a minimum threshold." The Committee thus chose an open, inclusive definition that made it possible to consider what already exists without skewing the concept.
The Committee also identified the principles to respect in an income support system, namely, equity, incentive to work and efficiency, to which it added a cross-cutting concern with accessibility. The Committee's proposed definition of guaranteed minimum income made it possible to replace the idea of unconditionality, a characteristic of a universal allowance, with a more flexible property, the guarantee for all, thus creating opportunities for reconciliation between the principles of equity, efficiency, and incentive to work.
A global diagnosis of Québec's current income support system
Through its work, the Committee was able to make a global diagnosis of Québec's current income support system. Quebecers benefit from substantial assistance covering the main life stages during which a citizen could end up in a vulnerable situation. In the Committee's view, these are gains to be secured.
However, the Committee found that Québec's current income support system does does not fully meet the core definition of guaranteed minimum income.
- The system leaves some persons with little or no protection, as the guarantee of monetary resources is not offered to everyone.
- The guarantee of monetary resources is not linked to an explicit minimum threshold.
To fill these gaps, the Committee simulated the application of an absolute form of guaranteed minimum income—a universal allowance—or a negative income tax in Québec in it's complete form. The Committee noted that these applications raise significant problems in terms of equity, incentive to work and social acceptability.
The global vision of a transformed and enhanced income support system
The Committee proposes instead to make Québec's current income support system evolve into one that meets the core definition of guaranteed minimum income, by targeting changes and transformations to be made to the system.
It is necessary to ensure that the system offers a guarantee of monetary resources to everyone, by better covering "non-recourse" and persons in "transition situations." The Committee recommends, in particular, the automatic payment of certain tax credits, the payment of various forms of support with a single cheque, additional coverage for persons who are in "transition situations" and cannot get social assistance, the implementation of a temporary assistance program, and the creation of a personal account for training and transition.
An explicit minimum threshold must be established in support of the most disadvantaged. The Committee recommends setting a benchmark level that explicitly establishes the minimum income support to be given to persons based on their ability to increase their disposable income through work. This is why a benchmark level is different from the poverty line. The Committee recommends, among other things, the benchmark threshold to be set for persons with no employment restrictions, for persons 65 and over and for persons with disabilities, as well as initiatives to take to fill the gaps observed.
The system must further stimulate integration into the labour market, as that is the most sustainable and efficient way to support income, along with training and education. The Committee recommends, among other things, that a greater reward be provided for work efforts, through a major increase to the work premium. The Committee paves the way for a new approach that goes much further on the income ladder than that under the current system. The Committee recommends new initiatives for how work is organized in businesses, and hiring policies, as well as social integration.
Two Committee recommendations shine a light on the later evolution of the income support system into a more comprehensive form of guaranteed minimum income.
"Our committee's final report is entitled Guaranteed Minimum Income in Québec: A Utopia? An Inspiration for Québec. This title reflects the thrust of the conclusions and recommendations we are submitting to the government. The Commitee was tasked with examining one concept—guaranteed minimum income—which needed to be clearly defined and made practicable. Today, in its purest and most comprehensive form, guaranteed minimum income is often considered a utopia. If that is the case, then for this Committee, that utopia is a source of inspiration."
"The Committee wants a society that is free of poverty, but this wish can only be achieved by helping persons who are able to re-enter the labour market, pursue education and training or, more generally, better integrate into society. In the Committee's view, poverty is not a status, but rather a situation and those who are in it must be helped to get out. The income support system must guarantee the minimum resources required for vulnerable persons to meet their immediate needs. Above all, it must eliminate barriers preventing these persons from escaping poverty."
Dorothée Boccanfuso, Chair of the Expert Committee on Guaranteed Minimum Income
- The government instituted the Expert Committee on Guaranteed Minimum Income to make recommendations to the Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity and the Minister of Finance on matters pertaining to income support.
- The process aimed to explore new approaches to waging an even more effective fight against poverty, foster social inclusion, and move toward instituting a guaranteed minimum income.
- Composed of three experts from the university research community, the Committee made 23 recommendations consistent with a global vision of what would be a transformed and enhanced income system.
For more information on the Expert Committee on Guaranteed Minimum Income, and to consult the final report and the progress report:
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