Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I really appreciate the opportunity.
I'd like to highlight why I'm here and why I've decided to speak. For me, it's very important to the people of my riding that I speak about this issue. This is something that concerns a lot of people in my riding. A lot of people don't fall under the normal parameters of what we often talk about with regard to our economy here in Canada. We often run things for the top 40%, the middle class, the top 60%. Unfortunately, there are a lot more people in this country.
The guaranteed annual income is something that I believe is so important. We do these little programs all the time. We do a little program here, a little program there. We have old age security. We have guaranteed income for seniors, and we have the new Canada child tax benefit, which is like guaranteed income for children and families, but a lot of other people fall through the cracks. These people fall through the cracks inadvertently, and I think it's a great shame.
It's a shame because I'll get people in my riding coming to see me, and they'll have a disability, or they'll be unable to receive the same level of social capital, but they also deserve a good quality of life. I'm not saying they deserve granite countertops. I'm not saying they deserve to have gold-trimmed toilets or anything like that. What I am saying is that they deserve to have basic human dignity.
We've been talking often about tax policies and how we can go about doing that. I highlighted last time a little bit about the negative income tax and the ways in which we can do taxation in this country. The basic income debate is something that's been going on since at least 1754, with the Second Discourse of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who talked about property. He famously claimed that the first man who, after enclosing a piece of ground, took it into his head to say “This is mine”, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the true founder of civil society. There were many crimes. How many wars, how many murders, how many misfortunes and horrors would a man have saved the human species if, pulling up the stakes or filling up the ditches, he'd cried to his fellows to be sure not to listen to this imposter or they were lost: they would forget that the fruits of the earth belonged equally to us all and that the earth itself belonged to nobody. That was Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
You might ask what land has to do with it. Well, sometimes it's about the equal distribution of wealth in our society and who deserves to have that wealth.
In 1848 there was another gentleman, another economist, Joseph Charlier, who presented what was, as far as what's identified in the literature is concerned, the earliest case for an unconditional income stream funded mainly from land taxation. Charlier continued to advocate the case over the next 50 years.
The second theorist was François Huet. In 1853 he offered a sustained justification of an abstinently unconditional capital endowment dotation for all young adults, to be funded by or from inheritance and gift taxation. That commitment was repeated in all of his later works.
This is not something that just a few people have been talking about. Even in 1795, the American revolutionary Thomas Paine advocated a citizen dividend to all U.S. citizens as compensation for loss of his or her natural inheritance by the introduction of the system of landed property. It's in his book Agrarian Justice.
French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte echoed Paine's sentiments, and commented, “Man is entitled by birthright to a share of the earth's produce sufficient to fill the needs of his existence.” That comes from Herold, from 1955.
In 1962 economist Milton Friedman advocated a minimum guaranteed income, the idea of a negative income tax.
In 1963 Robert Theobald published the book Free Men and Free Markets, in which he advocated a guaranteed minimum income. This is actually the origin of the modern phrase that we use today.
In 1966 the Cloward-Piven strategy advocated overloading the U.S. welfare system to force its collapse in the hopes that it would be replaced by a guaranteed annual income, and thus an end to poverty.
One of my favourites is from 1967, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote: “I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective—the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.”
And it goes on. We can find more examples of many economists who talk about this. The 1994 An Autobiographical Dialogue, from the classic liberal, Friedrich Hayek, stated, “I have always said that I am in favour of a minimum income for every person in the country”.
It's incredible even if you look at some of our own finance ministers in the western hemisphere, in the Commonwealth. New Zealand's Labour finance minister in 1984, Roger Douglas, announced a guaranteed minimum family income scheme to accompany a new flat tax. Unfortunately, both were quashed by the then-prime minister, David Lange, who sacked Douglas. Yet it still comes. I love the fact that in 1968, as well, James Tobin, Paul Samuelson, John Kenneth Galbraith, and another 1,200 economists signed a document calling for the U.S. Congress to introduce a system of income guarantees and supplements in that year.
Many people often ask what this means. Why are we giving something free to someone else, people who don't deserve it? There are many different names for this. Even in Alaska they have a guaranteed income of sorts, the Alaska permanent fund, which takes the natural resources of the state and gives out 25% in disbursements to all its citizens. There are many other names: the guaranteed basic income, share the wealth; basic income, BI; guaranteed income, GI; social credit—we used to have that in Alberta. I remember a government called the Social Credit—basic income guarantee, BIG; guaranteed minimum; social dividend; citizens' dividend; guaranteed minimum income; social income; citizens' dividend; income guarantee; social wage; citizens' income; minimum income guarantee; state bonus; minimum income; territorial dividend; citizens' wage; mincome, as we have used here in Canada; unconditional basic income, UBI; daily bread; bread and roses—some of those old solidarity songs they used to sing in the 1930s, “Give us our daily bread and roses”—national minimum; universal allocation; demogrants; national tax rebate; universal basic income; dividends for all; negative income tax; universal benefit; guaranteed annual income; refundable income tax credit; universal grant; guaranteed adequate income; rent sharing; universal income tax credit. Those are just a few of the names to describe many of the same philosophies that we see throughout a lot of economic literature.
Perhaps it's not important to everyone, but it is important to a lot of people. At the end of the day, the state spends a lot of money, and how well we spend that money is very important. We have a lot of little programs around the country. We have a lot of little problems around the country. We put a bit of money here to address that problem; we put some more money over there to address a similar problem related to poverty. Yet, they seemingly never address that poverty overall, and they place many conditions.
One of my favourite works on guaranteed income is by Dr. Martin Luther King. I thought I would read an excerpt from one of his books. I don't want to waste the time of the committee, but I think this is so important to have on the record and for the people of Canada to know about this. Martin Luther King is one of my favourites, one of the great heroes in my life, along with Nelson Mandela, whom I had the opportunity of going to see in 1994, when he was first elected in free and fair elections in South Africa in his 70s. Dr. Martin Luther King, the truth that he espoused, of going to the mountaintop and seeing the promised land, is one of the things that I think many people in this country hold dear. The truth that he espouses here applies equally not just to the United States, but even to Canada. In his words:
||There is only one general proposal that I would like to examine here, because it deals with the abolition of poverty within this nation and leads logically to my final discussion of poverty on an international scale.
||In the treatment of poverty nationally, one fact stands out: there are twice as many white poor as Negro poor in the United States. Therefore I will not dwell on the experiences of poverty that derived from racial discrimination, I will discuss the poverty that affects white and Negro alike.
I'm going to comment on this.
When I decided to run for mayor in 2014, in the city of Winnipeg, many people said to me that since I was the indigenous candidate, the indigenous guy running for mayor, I was going to look out for the interests of the indigenous people. I said I wasn't here just to look out for the interests of indigenous people, that I was here to look out for the interests of all of us in the city of Winnipeg. Those are the same ideals that I bring to this House and to this committee. Poverty affects everyone equally across this country, whether you are indigenous, a newcomer, or a non-indigenous person, as I like to describe people who are non-indigenous.
I'll continue the quote:
||Up to recently we have proceeded from a premise that poverty is a consequence of multiple evils: lack of education restricting job opportunities; poor housing which stultified home life and suppressed initiative; fragile family relationships which distorted personality development. The logic of this approach suggested that each of these causes be attacked one by one. Hence a housing program to transform living conditions, improved educational facilities to furnish tools for better job opportunities, and family counseling to create better personal adjustments were designed. In combination these measures were intended to remove the causes of poverty.
||While none of these remedies in itself is unsound, all have a fatal disadvantage. The programs have never proceeded on a coordinated basis or at a similar rate of development. Housing measures have fluctuated at the whims of legislative bodies. They have been piecemeal and pygmy. Educational reforms have been even more sluggish and entangled in bureaucratic stalling and economy-dominated decisions. Family assistance stagnated in neglect and then suddenly was discovered to be the central issue on the basis of hasty and superficial studies. At no time has a total, coordinated and fully adequate program been conceived. As a consequence, fragmentary and spasmodic reforms have failed to reach down to the profoundest needs of the poor.
||In addition to the absence of coordination and sufficiency, the programs of the past all have another common failing—they are indirect. Each seeks to solve poverty by first solving something else.
In Martin Luther King's own words:
||I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective—the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.
||Earlier in this century this proposal would have been greeted with ridicule and denunciation as destructive of initiative and responsibility. At that time economic status was considered the measure of the individual’s abilities and talents. In the simplistic thinking of that day the absence of worldly goods indicated a want of industrious habits and moral fiber.
||We have come a long way in our understanding of human motivation and of the blind operation of our economic system. Now we realize that dislocations in the market operation of our economy and the prevalence of discrimination thrust people into idleness and bind them in constant or frequent unemployment against their will.
It's incredible. This is 1968 where he's talking about the same things that are affecting many of the same people today, whether it's young people, whether it's people who have been displaced by the new economy. There's a new economy that is coming with the lack of drivers for cars, the lack of drivers for trucks, and where the automation of even many of the jobs that are considered high-level thinking will be affecting many people in our society, so even if you are lawyers, we will be able to use artificial intelligence to put many people out of work in this country.
Here he is talking about that exact same thing in 1968:
||The poor are less often dismissed from our conscience today by being branded as inferior and incompetent. We also never know that no matter how dynamically the economy develops and expands it does not eliminate all poverty.
We can talk about growth, but unfortunately that poverty seems to always be there:
||We have come to the point where we must make the nonproducer a consumer or we will find ourselves drowning in a sea of consumer goods. We have so energetically mastered production that we now must give attention to distribution. Though there have been increases in purchasing power, they have lagged behind increases in production. Those at the lowest economic level, the poor white and Negro, the aged and chronically ill, are traditionally unorganized and therefore have little ability to force the necessary growth in their income. They stagnate or become even poorer in relation to the larger society.
||The problem indicates that our emphasis must be two-fold. We must create full employment or we must create incomes. People must be made consumers by one method or the other. Once they are placed in this position, we need to be concerned that the potential of the individual is not wasted. New forms of work that enhance the social good will have to be devised for those for whom traditional jobs are not available.
||In 1879 Henry George anticipated the state of affairs when he wrote in Progress and Poverty—
—and I decided, Mr. Chair, to bring Progress and Poverty, one of my favourite economic books that I had in my library. It was given to me by a very good former finance minister of the Province of Manitoba, the Honourable Sid Green. Thank you very much, sir.
In this book he often talks about many of the issues facing them at the time—it was published in the 1850s—and it's an absolutely wonderful read. If any of you have any time, I encourage the listeners, if they are listening, the Twitterverse, to perhaps go out and take the time to read this wonderful book. It's a bit long, but nonetheless, the truths that are told in there are absolutely fantastic.
In the book he says:
||The fact is that the work which improves the condition of mankind, the work which extends knowledge and increases power, and enriches literature, and elevates thought, is not done to secure a living. It is not the work of slaves, driven to their task either by the lash of a master or by animal necessities. It is the work of men who perform it for its own sake, and not that they may get more to eat or drink, or wear, or display. In a state of society where want was abolished, work of this sort would be enormously increased.
Returning to Martin Luther King:
||We are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished. The poor transformed into purchasers will do a great deal on their own to alter housing decay.
Why provide people with money or societies or groups to set up social housing, when you can provide individuals with the wherewithal to decide what they want to do with that money themselves? I think that is in essence the nature of humans, allowing people the individual choices themselves.
Returning to Martin Luther King:
||Negroes, who have a double disability, will have a greater effect on discrimination when they have the additional weapon of cash to use in their struggle.
I have just come out of a meeting with the the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, the , and in some reserves, we believe there is an unemployment rate of 80% to 90%, and we wonder how we're going to develop this economy. We don't know. It's a hard question. We've been trying to deal with this for many decades, and somehow we have not succeeded.
Beyond these advantages, a host of positive psychological changes inevitably will result.
An hon. member: Point of order.
||Beyond these advantages, a host of positive psychological changes inevitably will result from widespread economic security. The dignity of the individual will flourish when the decisions concerning his life are in his own hands, when he has the assurance that his income is stable and certain, and when he knows that he has the means to seek self-improvement. Personal conflicts between husband, wife and children will diminish when the unjust measurement of human worth on a scale of dollars is eliminated.
||Two conditions are indispensable if we are to ensure that the guaranteed income operates as a consistently progressive measure. First, it must be pegged to the median income of society, not the lowest levels of income. To guarantee an income at the floor would simply perpetuate welfare standards and freeze into the society poverty conditions. Second, the guaranteed income must be dynamic; it must automatically increased as the total social income grows. Were it permitted to remain static under growth conditions, the recipients would suffer a relative decline. If periodic reviews disclose that the whole national income has risen, then the guaranteed income would have to be adjusted upward by the same percentage. Without these safeguards a creeping retrogression would occur, nullifying the gains of security and stability.
||This proposal is not a "civil rights" program in the sense that that term is currently used. The program would benefit all the poor, including the two-thirds of them who are white. I hope that both Negro and white will act in coalition to effect this change, because their combined strength will be necessary to overcome the fierce opposition we must realistically anticipate.
I will re-state. “opposition we must realistically anticipate”:
||Our nation's adjustment to a new mode of thinking will be facilitated if we realize that for nearly forty years two groups in our society have already been enjoying a guaranteed income. Indeed, it is a symptom of our confused social values that these two groups turn out to be the richest and the poorest. The wealthy who own securities have always had an assured income; and their polar opposite, the relief client, has been guaranteed an income, however miniscule, through welfare benefits.
|| John Kenneth Galbraith has estimated that $20 billion a year would effect a guaranteed income, which he describes as "not much more than we will spend the next fiscal year to rescue freedom and democracy and religious liberty as these are defined by 'experts' in Vietnam."
This is obviously a 1968 figure:
||The contemporary tendency in our society is to base our distribution on scarcity, which has vanished, and to compress our abundance into the overfed mouths of the middle and upper classes until they gag with superfluity. If democracy is to have breadth of meaning, it is necessary to adjust this inequity. It is not only moral, but it is also intelligent. We are wasting and degrading human life by clinging to archaic thinking.
||The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.
Martin Luther King spoke many truths in his book. I think the ones that really speak to me, I've already talked about in Winnipeg, but also on a larger scale is how much we actually waste of the human potential in many of our societies, how many groups in our society do not seem to have the same benefits.
He also talked about how there are two groups in our society that do have a form of guaranteed income: those in the top 20% and those in the lower 20%. The top 20% live off the income of their rents. They don't have to worry about the needs and the wants of life. They are able to simply carry on and accumulate more wealth. We have seen this, and I will highlight this at a greater extent in a little bit, but this continues to occur even here in our country, a country which we think of as being very egalitarian.
We had at this committee Dr. Evelyn Forget, an economist from the University of Manitoba, who talked about a guaranteed annual income. She wrote about this on a number of occasions in academic journals, peer reviewed, not simply a trade group coming here to speak at this committee with some political agenda, but someone who has clear and concise data who can prove, without an ounce of doubt, the difference that something like this, a minimum guaranteed annual income, a basic income guarantee, will make in the lives of people.
For instance, in Preventative Medicine, published in December 2013, she talks about her study that investigates whether administrative data from universal health insurance can yield new insights from an old intervention, specifically did a guaranteed annual income experiment from the 1970s designed to investigate labour market outcomes, reduce hospitalization rates.
The study re-examined the saturation site of a guaranteed annual income experiment in Dauphin, Manitoba, conducted between 1974 and 1979, called mincome. She used health administrative data generated by the government universal health insurance plan to identify subjects. This involved approximately 12,500 residents of Dauphin and its rural municipality. She used propensity score matching to select three controls for each subject from this database matched on geography of residence, age, sex, family size, and type. Outcome measures were hospital separations and physician claims. The results were that hospital separations declined 8.5% among subjects relegated to controls during the experimental period. Accident and injury codes and mental health codes were most responsible for the decline.
Her conclusion was that even though mincome was designed to measure the impact of a guaranteed annual income on the number of hours worked, one can still revisit the old experiments with new data to determine the health impact of population interventions designed for other purposes. She determined that hospitalization rates declined significantly after the introduction of a guaranteed income.
Ontario currently is looking into a guaranteed annual income. That's just Ontario by itself. Across this country, there are many different programs run by the federal government and the various provinces. Often we see these social programs are supposed to be the jurisdiction of the provinces, yet often the federal government has a role to play. I think there needs to be some level of coordination between these two levels of government, these two executive branches, to ensure that we get to the heart of the matter, that we ensure that these programs are done in the best possible way.
Evelyn Forget did not stop there. She has been publishing about this for quite a long time. In Canadian Public Policy, another peer-reviewed journal, she documented, in September 2011, the historical context of mincome, a Canadian guaranteed income experiment from 1974-79. She collected more health administrative data, and she saw an 8.5% reduction in the hospitalization rate.
It was also found that participants' contacts with physicians declined, especially for mental health, and that more adolescents continued through grade 12. People continued to get their education. They found no increase in fertility, although one might suspect that people would have more children to get more income. They saw no rise in family dissolution rates. They saw improved birth outcomes. They concluded that a relatively modest—modest—guaranteed annual income can improve population health, suggesting significant savings for the health system. That's important.
Now, this is not the only report. If you do a search from 1987 in the Library of Parliament, you will find a 30-page bibliography with many select readings from Manitoba and Ontario looking at exactly these questions. People have been writing about it for a long time. Unfortunately, it seems that it's a lot of academics writing about it, and this place does not do very well with academics. Academics who may have interesting information to present are often not the ones we invite to committees, although it does happen sometimes. Sometimes those reports or the studies that academics might make do not always end up in the reports of parliaments.
Earlier I spoke about wealth and income equality in our country. I would like to highlight that between 1999 and 2012, the net worth of the bottom 20% of Canadians dropped by $6 billion, and they had already been in the hole by $4 billion in 1999. By 2012, they were in the hole by $10 billion.
The loss of $6 billion is dwarfed by the increase in the wealth of the top 20%. The top 20% added $2.9 trillion to their net worth. That's in Canada. The poor, the lowest 20%, lost $6 billion, and the top 20% gained $2.9 trillion. The average gain in the top 20% was 483 times more than what the people in the bottom 20% lost.
We often think that everyone is getting better off, but it is just that the people who are best off are pulling further ahead. The poor in Canada are getting poorer and going more in debt.
I wish I could present to you the graphs and some of the figures I have here in this little paper. It shows that the fifth quintile saw a $2.9-trillion increase, the fourth quintile, a $949-billion increase, the third quintile, a $383-billion increase, the second quintile, $78 billion, and the lowest quintile, almost $6.7 billion. That's the change in wealth in Canada from 1999 to 2012. I think that's telling about what's going on in our society. The rich get richer, and the poor...well, we've heard that cliché so many times.
I have heard many times that there are often cost savings that could potentially result from doing something like this. For instance, you don't need to be running a housing project for people. If you give them a guaranteed annual income, they can decide for themselves. They can decide how to best spend that money for themselves. They can obtain the housing they want for themselves and their families.
Think about students, for instance. Take a student who is just out of school, or who is about to go into university, and who looks at the high cost of schooling. Instead of taking out a student loan, or receiving a student loan from the government, the student will have a guaranteed annual income to place toward that program. The federal government spends billions of dollars on this.
There are student groups in universities that have come to my office on Parliament Hill, in the little time I've been here, who have said that we need to offer free university education. Indigenous groups have come in and said that it's a treaty right. Let us just make it a human right. Let us offer people a guaranteed annual income, and they decide for themselves.
There are many savings that potentially could result, but that's not the only thing. Sometimes you have to come down to the personal story.
During the federal election in 2015, I had the opportunity to go door to door. I took along one of my university professor friends, one of my colleagues from the University of Winnipeg, Dr. Malcolm Bird. He came with me one night and did a little door to door with me.
Most of the areas in my riding are not rich and not well off. It's a low working-class neighbourhood, with good, hard-working people. They work hard. After a couple of hours, Malcolm came to find me. He had gone in one direction and I had gone in another direction. The team went in other directions. We spread out through the neighbourhood. He came to find me. He said, “Robert, I want you to come and meet this lady. This lady is incredible, this senior citizen. You have to come hear her story.” I went. Incredibly enough, this lady had been in Dauphin during the mincome experiment.
She did not have a large house. It was a small house. She told me about her life in Dauphin. She was a mother with three young children and with a husband who could have been bordering on abusive. She didn't have any education. She didn't have any options, and because of the economic system that was placed before her, she was forced to choose. She was forced to choose a life she did not want, because she did not have the same level of economic stability that people in the top 20% or top 40% had in this country.
Then along came mincome, under Pierre Trudeau, and Ed Schreyer, who at that time was the premier of Manitoba. They said, “Here is an income“. Instead of struggling along and staying in a relationship she did not want to stay in, she decided to leave, to go to school, to take her children with her. She decided to leave a relationship that was not in her best interest, and start anew.
She got herself an education in those few short years. She got herself a bachelor's degree. That bachelor's degree allowed her to get a better-paying job, a job that she was able to support her children with, because it offered her the tools to craft a life for herself. She didn't have a bureaucrat standing over her and saying that she has to work at McDonald's, that she has to get a job, that she has to do this or that.
She was given the opportunity to decide what she wanted to do herself, and what was in the best interests of her and her family. She decided education was that opportunity, and she took it. She realized that perhaps there had been some mistakes and she should have got an education earlier on, but our system is often not forgiving of those who try to catch up later on. If you don't get your education as a young person, sometimes it can be very unforgiving: lack of child care on university campuses, often lack of housing, often it's very expensive.
We talked a bit about her life. I keep thinking about my colleague sitting beside me here, Mr. Raj Grewal. I was reading about his life story, how his family came here from Punjab and worked very hard and became very successful. Now he works as a lawyer, and now he's here in Parliament. He should be very proud. I'm proud to call him a colleague. I'm sure his parents are very proud.
Raj, I suspect, also had something else. He had social capital. I won't put words in his mouth. His parents had, probably, but I'm not sure, very good basic values that pushed him forward, that drove him to succeed, that forced him probably sometimes to succeed against his wishes. Good parents often do that.
That woman used that opportunity from the guaranteed income to build social capital for her children, and her children decided to get an education. She had three sons. One who has a master's degree works for Manitoba Hydro. One with a master's degree works for the City of Winnipeg. The other one has his own business. They all have loving families and are doing very well. That is a success story for the guaranteed income.
Take even my own personal story. I'm unusual in a sense in that often people think about me and they look and say, “Robert, you're an indigenous person and look how successful you are. You have a master's degree and you have a math Ph.D. You have a wonderful home and a wonderful wife.”
But not when I was growing up.... I grew up in great poverty. There were times when I was homeless as a child. We would live in the car. We would camp out in the car. My mother would call it camping: “We're going to go camping for the next three months.” We'd start sometime in May and we'd end in late September or October.
I remember my mother crying because she wasn't able to obtain the services from the welfare agencies. There's another thing that comes with it. There's something called pride. To have to go to the state with your hand held out and say that you have been unsuccessful is very demeaning and degrading to many individuals across this country. There are over 800,000 people in this country who are forced to use food banks. To have to use a food bank and to have to hold your hand out and say you have not been successful in this life, that you are requiring a handout, is extremely hard. As someone who has had to do that, I can tell you, you feel just like S-H-I-T. I won't say the word, Mr. Chair, but you don't feel very good.
Yet, my mother rigged the system. She cheated the system. She got a fake loan, or a real loan from a bank. She lied about her income, using her employer who wasn't paying her very much. Then she sent me to one of the best private schools in western Canada, Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School in Okotoks, where I went to school with the children of the consulates general of the countries that were represented in Calgary, and many of the sons and daughters of the oil executives.
This was an eye-opening experience, but that's because she decided to get herself her own guaranteed income in the form of a bank loan, and I'll remind everyone, she paid it off in full after I was done school. School cost $10,000 a year in 1994; $20,000 today. I built up social capital. I built up a sense of self-worth about who I was as an individual. I had come from an inner-city school where I used to carry around an X-acto knife in order to defend myself against others, where I was failing classes, where I just managed to pull it together enough in order to pass that entrance exam in order to get into Strathcona-Tweedsmuir. Somehow I said enough in that entrance exam and the interview in order to get into the school, but that's unusual.
I think there are many unusual people in our society who deserve the same level of opportunity. I believe in Mr. Caron's ideal that we should be studying a guaranteed annual income. It is important.
One of the things I learned when I was in the military for 19 years was never to pass the buck. If you pass the buck off to someone else, someone else will forget. If it arrives on your desk, you are not to say, “it's not my job; it's someone else's job”. You have to make sure that other person is going to do that job, because people's lives are at risk.
I bring that same philosophy here.
We have already debated once whether HUMA, another committee, will actually study it. We've learned that they will probably not be studying this ideal. They will not be studying this issue, at least not in the foreseeable future.
It's an issue that might have large implications, but if you don't study it, you won't know. If you exist in a state of ignorance, or you don't really know what you should or shouldn't be doing and if you don't know if it's actually possible, then how can you go about even conceiving that it might be possible or impossible?
I wish I could show you some other graphs that I have. Perhaps I'll just put them up online.
However, if you sat there and you decided to write out a table about how a guaranteed income might actually work, you could make five or six columns. In the first column you would put person 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 going down in a list. In the second column, you would put gross income $500,000, $200,000, $100,000, $10,000, $0. In the third column, you would put taxes $136,800, $46,800, $16,800, and $0 in taxes for persons 4 and 5. Then you would put transfers per person of $0 for person 1, $0 for person 2, $0 for person 3, $6,000 for person 4, and $16,000 for person 5. For the net income they would actually have, you would find that they would have $363,200 for person 1, $153,200 for person 2, $83,200 for person 3, $16,000 for person 4, and $16,000 for person 5.
Now, if you were looking at taxation and at how you would tax people and how much it would actually cost, you could see the actual cost. The total tax revenue is $200,400. The transfers you're making for the guaranteed annual income are $22,000. That seems to be pretty interesting. I'll put some of these tables up online for people if they're interested.
I'm going to close with a few comments, because I know you probably want to get onto your work. I'll try not to talk too long because I know other people have other things they'd like to debate. I'd like to talk about our society.
Paul Kennedy wrote the book, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, which was published in 1993. It was one of my favourite books as a youth when I was going to Strathcona-Tweedsmuir. It's a very large book.
He talks about the difference between northern and southern Europe. What is the difference? Why is one area richer than the other? Why did we see the rise of Germany and the fall of Italy?
If my memory serves me correctly, I believe Mr. Kennedy talked about the form that religion had taken in those societies. He was talking about Catholicism versus Protestantism and how Protestantism had reformed itself into the Protestant work ethic and rather than the Earth being inherited by the meek, those who were rich were blessed by God; those who are rich are deserving of God. Those values still prevail in many of the ways we view others in our society.
In my riding, I have 1,400 confirmed homeless people, I believe, in a city of 750,000 people. That's an incredible number. During the Liberal convention in Winnipeg, I took some of my Liberal colleagues out to visit some of the people in my riding and to some of the homeless areas of my riding. It was a very moving experience.
I even campaigned in some of those areas in trying to sign up homeless people to come out and vote, because I don't look down upon them. When I walk by them, I'll have a chat with them, because they are human beings. They could be my father. They could be my mother. They could be an uncle—literally—or an aunt or a cousin. It could be me. That could have been me if my life had not been changed by a simple bank application that my mother filled out.
When I see them, I think this is for those people, our people, our fellow citizens, who want to believe that somewhere and somehow this should be studied in this House. Even though I'm going to be voting against this measure of the NDP, it is painful to have to be confronted with that, because I think there are elements that need to be studied in greater detail. But we still have three years and three months to go until the next election, and as I said a previous time in a previous session, we need to think in the long term on this issue. We need to think in the long term in this committee.
The government is dealing with day-to-day issues, those day-to-day crises when something else pops up in a meeting and they have to deal with it. Other people are thinking in the long term, but sometimes it can be very difficult. This time and this place should be a time for long-term, reflective thought. I hope we'll take that time—someone, somewhere—for that long-term reflective thought to do the very first study, like Finland, Ontario, and Brazil, and like many other countries around the world that are looking into this exact issue. If you go to Wikipedia, you can find many of these countries.
Mr. Chairman, I very much appreciate your time.
I apologize profoundly to my colleagues. I hope you haven't felt that your time has been wasted here. Perhaps you've had the opportunity of answering a few emails. At the end of the day, it was something that I wanted to get off my chest and on the record, because if it is not heard, there will be very little opportunity within the House itself to speak on this. There would be very little opportunity even on this committee to speak on this. Some of these things need to be heard in this place, whether it's in this little room right here or in the larger chamber. Whether many people listen or don't listen, it should be on the record for all time.
[Witness speaks in Cree]