Singh pledges federal NDP support for P.E.I. basic income pilot

·2 min read

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he "would love to go to bat for P.E.I." when it comes to pressing the Trudeau government for funding to set up a basic income pilot project.

A report from the P.E.I. legislature recently supported asking Ottawa to contribute an unspecified amount of money to fund the program. The total cost would be $270 million a year to provide a guaranteed annual income of $18,260 to more than 50,000 Islanders.

"We believe in lifting people out of poverty…. This is something that is not out of the blue," Singh told CBC's Kerry Campbell of the NDP's backing for a pilot project in P.E.I. — a province where it has never elected an MP.

"We campaigned on it, in fact, in 2019, that we needed a national pilot project. There are strong arguments for P.E.I. to be a site of this national pilot project."

Singh pointed to Prince Edward Island's blend of agriculture, fishery and industrial jobs, saying a pilot project in the province would come up with findings that could apply to many other parts of Canada.

'Trudeau will have to answer to that'

Asked what the NDP can do specifically to push Justin Trudeau's Liberals to fund a basic income pilot project, as the fourth party in a minority government Parliament, Singh said: "We are going to communicate this as an important thing to the government … And we are going to continue to put pressure."

He said the NDP successfully lobbied the Liberals to improve what they were planning in terms of COVID-19 pandemic financial support for Canadians. "As a fourth party we have been fighting and punching way above our weight."

The Liberals hold 155 seats in the 338-member House of Commons and Singh's party has 24, behind the Conservatives and Bloc Québécois.

Other than communicating that the NDP would support the measure if the Liberals tabled legislation in the House of Commons, Singh said the ball is now in the government's hands.

"If the Liberals are unwilling to help people, that's on them…. Justin Trudeau will have to answer to that."

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