Experts recommend an increase of the social assistance and the work premium

Photo: David Ebener Archives Agence France-Presse
No court has applied a universal allowance in its absolute form, because it causes problems and the incentive to work, according to the chairman of the committee.

Quebec is expected to improve the social assistance and to improve significantly the work premium for low-paid workers, failing to introduce a minimum guaranteed income, according to the committee of experts to study the issue.


The committee, created by the government Couillard in June 2016, has published a substantial report containing 23 recommendations on Monday. It must lay the foundations for the next government action Plan on the fight to poverty and social exclusion this fall.


If it finds that single people and couples without children in Quebec are low or inadequately protected, the committee does not go so far as to recommend the basic income guarantee, called build on the experiences of 26 countries in the world.


No court has applied a universal allowance in its absolute form, since it causes problems of equity, work incentives and social acceptability, said the chairperson of the committee, the full professor in the Department of economics of the University of Sherbrooke, Dorothée Boccanfuso.


“In the simulations that we have done for Quebec, it was found that there were losers, and even if it is simulated, so that there will be no losers, we realized that the less poor benefit more from the measure “, she said in a press conference.


There was also the matter of ” efficiency “, the ability to pay of the Quebec government, she said.


The defenders of the basic income guarantee, including Ontario, which has recently implemented a pilot project, said that it “supplements” the income of the individuals to meet their basic needs. This measure, which would replace social assistance, to ensure that a growing number of people in precarious employment and part-time income security.


The committee of experts proposes instead to improve the system of income support existing. No question of a clean slate ; Quebec already offers a ” significant help covering the main stages of life during which a citizen may be forced into a situation of vulnerability “, one can read in the report, as much “acquired” as ” secure “.


Single people and couples without children have less benefited from the reforms in the last few years. It is much the help to families, which has been the challenge, ” said Ms. Boccanfuso.


This is why she recommends to increase social assistance 472 $ per year for a single person and up to 311 $ per year for a couple without children.


This measure, which would cost 86.4 million, is intended to ensure that the income of a person corresponds to 55 % of the market basket measure. It is currently at 52 % for a single person (9192 $).


In addition, the committee suggests that the automatic payment of certain tax credits, the payment of different support through a unique check out, an additional cover to people facing situations of transition ” and not being able to rely on social assistance, the establishment of a temporary assistance program, as well as the creation of a personal account for the transition and the training.


These measures would help the government to reach out to those who do not claim social assistance and other measures to which they are entitled, either because the process is too complex, or because they fear the stigma, according to experts.


In order to “better reward” to those who leave social assistance to enter the labour market, the committee recommends that a “bonus major” one billion per year of the premium at work, aimed at the most low-paid workers.


Its cost is ” high “, the measure could be considered as a ” goal “, the completion of which would be gradual. The first step would be 441 000 households, or 396 000 individuals and 45 000 for couples without a child, for a cost of $ 109 million.


In the longer term, the committee proposes that a new bonus is created and replaces the current, ” said Ms. Boccanfuso. In this case, a single person working part-time would see its revenues increase of $ 591 annually, she shown.


The committee has not considered the increase in the minimum wage in Quebec, nor has he considered the possibility that the proposed measures, in particular those that focus on people in a transitional situation, are retroactive.


The PQ denounces a ” lack of ambition “


Reacting to the report Monday, the Parti québécois has denounced the “lack of ambition” of the government in the fight against poverty.


“The mandate entrusted to the committee had he really intended to help the most vulnerable ? The question arises, ” said the spokesman of the parti québecois in the field of employment, social solidarity and fight against poverty, and Harold LeBel.


It was particularly against the measure that would allow people only employable to receive assistance equivalent to 55 % of the market basket measure (MBM), which is only half of the amount needed to lift themselves out of extreme poverty.


“We believe that this increase of only 3%, is clearly insufficient”,-he said.


For its part, the Collective for a Quebec without poverty has expressed regret that overall, ” the recommendations are inconsistent with the government’s promise to deliver a third plan to combat poverty ambitious “.


“Unfortunately, we believe that this is exactly the kind of recommendations that the government expected,” said the spokesman Serge Petitclerc.


The class argues among other things that the government ensures an income of at least 17 716 $ per year for a single person ; increases the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour, in order that a single person working 35 hours per week kind of poverty ; and improving access to universal public services and of quality.


The minister of Employment and social Solidarity, François Blais, has long supported the introduction of a guaranteed minimum income in Quebec at the time when he was a professor of political philosophy at the Université Laval.

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