Commons committee asks Liberals to look to basic income to help ‘gig’ workers

Image result for gig economyROMUALDO FAURA

OTTAWA — A cross-party committee of MPs says it’s time for the government to take a deeper look at a guaranteed minimum income to help workers caught in the tectonic shifts of the “gig economy.”

The MPs’ report on declines in traditional, full-time employment in favour of short-term contract work says the government needs to explore new types of income supports “that do not depend upon someone having a job.”

To that end, the committee calls on federal officials to review a minimum-income program, which is typically a no-strings-attached government payment to every citizen that replaces an assortment of targeted benefits, as an option to help those between gigs who fall through the existing social safety net.

The report calls for a revamp of the employment-insurance system to widen that net, reducing the minimum number of hours someone must work before qualifying for benefits, boosting payments to low-wage workers, and reconsidering the benefits available to self-employed workers. It also calls on the government to modernize federal labour regulations.

MPs on the committee nod to some recent federal efforts, such as a soon-to-be-launched tax credit for individuals to offset the cost of work-training courses.

But here, too, the committee urges the government to pay close attention to the design of the Canada Training Benefit to make sure it is accessible to low-wage, part-time or self-employed workers and to make every effort to ensure they use the program. MORE

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