Green Party of Manitoba Leader James Beddome launched the provincial election campaign this morning, unveiling his party's costed, guaranteed annual income (GAI) plan.

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Green Party of Manitoba Leader James Beddome launched the provincial election campaign this morning, unveiling his party's costed, guaranteed annual income (GAI) plan.

"We've done the math," Beddome said in a news release. "We can deliver $6,300 a year to Manitobans through the income tax system and gradually reduce the need for welfare. The $1.4-billion cost of the program would be covered by eliminating selected non-refundable and refundable tax credits and provincial income-tested benefits that will keep existing tax rates the same."

The GAI would be provided to adult Manitobans in the form of a refundable tax credit, Beddome said, beginning at $6,300 for a single adult. It would feature a guarantee based on family size, with additional amounts made available to people claiming the federal disability tax credit or the infirm dependants tax credit.

The rate of poverty in Manitoba is rising, and existing welfare and income-support programs are not effective in combating it, the Green leader said.

"They reach only a fraction of the poor, and welfare discourages work by clawing back earnings at a very high rate (70 per cent). Compared to welfare, the GAI would reduce the claw back to 16 per cent, making it easier to leave welfare for work. As well, if the welfare program also reduces its benefits by two-thirds of the GAI received by its clients, caseloads would decline by 18 per cent. Those remaining on welfare will be better off," Beddome said.

Beddome said under the Green GAI plan, the 12 per cent of Manitoba families now below the low-income cut-off (LICO) would see income rise by an average of 22 per cent. The single person would gain the most, followed by the single-parent family and the elderly single person — the family types most at risk of poverty.