The idea of a universal basic income, a system through which everyone is guaranteed to receive a base level of money periodically, is quickly gaining traction in Canada as the federal government looks for ways to tackle the economic downturn left in the wake of mandatory pandemic shut-downs.

Implementing a universal basic income would mean that every Canadian, regardless of whether or not they have a job, would receive enough money to cover the basic cost of living. Politicians and activists alike have been urgently discussing the need for a basic income as Canada’s Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) comes to an end.

Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) supports access to a universal basic income that aligns with four core principles: human rights, equitable access, poverty reduction and adequacy.

Although there is no single definition of “basic income,” it is generally understood as an unconditional payment from the government to individuals or families, to ensure a minimum income level. Typically there are “no strings attached” to receiving a basic income, and recipients are not required to work, look for work, or participate in education or training to receive the payment. In a universal basic income program, benefits are paid to everyone, regardless of their level of income, and this type of model can be supported by Canada’s progressive income tax system where benefits can be “recovered” from households with higher levels of income.

The COVID-19 pandemic is an awkward time to propose exiting food banks as a response to widespread food insecurity. Food bank use, after all, is surging.

However, research has long shown that feeding surplus food to those left behind in wealthy, food-secure Canada is ineffective, inequitable and an affront to human dignity.

In a democratic society that values tolerance, equity and human rights, food banks are symbols of public policy neglect. They enable indifferent governments to ignore the moral crisis of domestic hunger.

Brian MacLeod is no stranger to hard living.

But the alcohol addict says he was ill-prepared for what he experienced during a stint of living on the streets of Halifax.

“Those people don’t live, they exist,” MacLeod said of his three-plus weeks on the street, borne partially out of necessity and partly from a longtime curiosity.

Winnipeg Centre’s NDP MP, Leah Gazan, wants to convert the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) into a permanent basic income that will benefit many groups, such as people who are unemployed, families with low, moderate and fixed incomes, people with disabilities, the working poor and others. She has a motion to put before Parliament.

“COVID-19 has demonstrated that we do have the resources,” she told Global News on Aug. 16. “We must ensure all individuals in Canada can thrive in dignity and that means making investments to ensure basic human rights for all. Motion 46’s goal is to fill the gaps in income and inequalities that have been worsened by the pandemic.”

Canada’s long-criticized social assistance programs may be getting a massive overhaul, according to a report from Reuters. Sources told the media network that with a new federal finance minister in place, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is planning sweeping changes to Canada’s social welfare systems as part of a pandemic recovery program.

Bill Morneau, the country’s fiscally conservative former finance minister, announced he was resigning on Monday. Sources told VICE News that there was a growing rift between the men over Trudeau’s COVID-19 spending programs. Trudeau replaced him with his Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, largely considered to be more progressive than Morneau. She’s now holding down both jobs.