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e-2520 (Social affairs and equality)

E-petition
Initiated by Christel Marchand from Montréal, Quebec

Original language of petition: French

Petition to the House of Commons

Whereas:
  • Artists are the driving force behind the cultural industry and the goods it produces, one of the largest industries in the country, with direct and indirect impacts on many industries, whose profits depend on this cultural content, which is essential to the well-being of all communities;
  • Artists and the cultural industry, already subject to precarious conditions, will greatly suffer from the impacts of COVID-19;
  • The production of cultural goods must continue or even expand during and after the crisis;
  • A number of universal basic income (UBI) projects, including those of Canadian organizations and the Finnish government, have shown increases in resilience, socio-economic development factors, job quality and business creation, as well as decreases in poverty indicators;
  • Current social support measures are outdated and costly, and a UBI would replace them at no cost, helping reduce social unrest and effectively stimulate the economy; and
  • While productivity is increasing, the labour market is constantly changing and remains unstable, and the ever-worsening concentration of wealth is undermining the development and survival of the cultural industry.
We, the undersigned, artists and citizens of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to implement a UBI that would be at least equivalent to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit of $2,000 per month for all Canadian artists, using existing institutions (for example, the Canada Council for the Arts (which can identify artists) and Employment Insurance), and to eventually extend the UBI to all Canadians.

Response by the Minister of Seniors

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): IREK KUSMIERCZYK

This is a challenging time for Canadians, and the Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant, and decisive actions to help people facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government has invested billions in targeted income support to individuals, business, key sectors, and community organizations on the frontlines of serving Canadians. In addition to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which is providing $500 per week to eligible individuals impacted by the forced shutdown of the economy, and measures to help companies pay rent and keep their employees working, the Government announced measures that provided financial support to vulnerable Canadians that helped limit income inequality and promote opportunity during this challenging time.

  • For lower income Canadians, the one-time Goods and Services Tax Credit payment delivered to eligible recipients in April 2020 effectively doubled the maximum annual amounts for the 2019-20 benefit year, benefiting over 12million individuals and families. The average additional benefit is close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples. The Government delivered $5.5B through this measure.
  • For families with children, the Government’s one-time $300 increase to Canada Child Benefit payments in May 2020 provided additional support to 3.7 million families to help pay for groceries, children’s at-home learning activities, and other necessities during this time. The overall increase for families receiving the child benefit was around $550 on average. The Government delivered almost $2B through this measure.
  • For seniors, the one-time boost of $300 to Old Age Security (OAS), additional payment of $200 for Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) recipients, and $500 to Allowance recipients provided increased support to help offset costs that seniors face right now, such as grocery delivery and medications. As of April 2020, 6.5M seniors receive OAS payments and were eligible for the enhancement. Of those, 2.1 million seniors are also receiving the GIS increase. The Government has delivered $2.5B through these measures.

These are just a few examples of the supports the Government has provided to Canadians during this difficult time. As of July 3, 2020, the Government had invested almost $232 billion in direct federal measures as part of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.

With regard to basic income, the Government of Canada continually undertakes research and analysis on a range of policies and programs that could positively impact Canada’s economy and society as part of its efforts to ensure that all Canadians have a real and fair opportunity to succeed.

The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of working with provinces and territories to find solutions to common challenges. However, it is important to acknowledge that it is up to the provincial and territorial governments to make decisions around the design of social assistance systems and policies in their own jurisdictions.

The Government of Canada already has programs with many of the features of a basic income, such as the Canada Child Benefit for families with children, the Old Age Security program and the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors. In addition, existing programs such as the Canada Workers Benefit and Employment Insurance provide income supports for low-income individuals with labour market attachment or those with insurable employment. That being said, the Government is aware of views regarding the existing Employment Insurance benefits and leave system and that the changing nature of work presents challenges in providing support to all Canadians in their unique circumstances.

At the same time, the Government of Canada recognizes the importance of the arts and the significant contributions of different kinds of artists to our country’s identity. As public opinion research has shown, most Canadians agree that arts and culture make communities better places to live and are important for individual well-being.

Moreover, arts and culture are important to Canada’s economy: Canada’s cultural sector accounts for approximately $53 billion of Gross Domestic Product and provides employment for more than 666,000 Canadians.  For every public-sector dollar invested in the arts, another dollar is stimulated from the private sector and generates additional positive returns including earned revenues, tickets sales, increased tourism, and organizational and employee spending.

While the majority of arts organizations’ revenues are self-generated, accounting for 73 percent of the typical non-profit performing arts organization’s revenues, the Government of Canada provides significant support for arts organizations with investments focused on professional, not-for-profit activity. This benefits arts organizations as well as individual artists and the wider public. Direct federal support is provided for activities of the National Arts Centre, and grants and contributions programs delivered by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Federal investments in the not-for-profit arts complement one another and the Government’s investment in the for-profit cultural industries. Legislative and taxation measures, such as the Copyright Act, the Income Tax Act, and the Status of the Artist Act, also provide support to the cultural industry, and individual artists.

As we continue to move towards economic recovery, the Government of Canada is continuing to explore a variety of potential shorter and longer-term policy responses that could address the ongoing needs of Canadians.

Open for signature
April 9, 2020, at 9:34 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
June 8, 2020, at 9:34 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie)
June 17, 2020 (Petition No. 431-00275)
Government response tabled
September 24, 2020
Photo - Alexandre Boulerice
Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie
New Democratic Party Caucus
Quebec
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