Alex Sangha: The end of poverty and the beginning of happiness

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      It's about time the provinces, territories, and federal government worked together to introduce a guaranteed annual income (GAI) to eliminate poverty everywhere in Canada quickly and simply.

      This is the perfect solution if the private sector and business do not want to increase the minimum wage or leave the minimum wage to reflect market rates.

      The federal government can use the income tax system to administer this new GAI program. A monthly cheque can be issued to citizens just like a GST rebate via direct deposit.

      It would be cheaper and more efficient than setting up welfare offices in every city and every town throughout this country.

      The GAI program would target low and modest income Canadians. It would provide incentives for people to go to school, work, volunteer, or participate in rehabilitation programs by providing the people with a higher benefit if they take steps to increase their independence.

      In other words, the program would be designed to maximize a person's quality of life, participation in society, and happiness.

      Maybe the government can even measure gross national happiness just as the small country of Bhutan has done. This happiness scale takes into account the promotion of sustainable development and cultural values; conservation of the natural environment; and establishment of good governance.

      Most provincial governments in Canada, however, have made life miserable for the poor with restrictive rules and regulations on social programs which create financial oppression and limited options for the people instead of happiness.

      For example, income assistance offices in B.C. pay a meager shelter allowance which does not reflect market rents and many people are not allowed to go to school and upgrade their skills while receiving benefits.

      The various governments can fund a GAI by eliminating existing income support programs and some tax deductions.

      Lets ensure everyone in Canada can afford a good quality of life and let's watch the people's creative energies, ideas, happiness, and productivity flourish!

      Who knows how many Nobel prize winners Canada will produce when we provide an environment and quality of life where everyone, rich or poor, can reach their potential.

      Alex Sangha is an award-winning social worker and author based in Surrey, B.C. His third social discussion book Catalyst was a finalist in the Current Events and Social Change category of the Next Generation Indie Book Awards of 2014. Sangha is also a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for Social Work and Community Service. For more information check out Sangha's author blog.