Edit: Thank you to everyone for being part of my first ever AMA! Thank you for your patience as well - my account was locked partway through! I appreciate all your questions and the time you took to ask them. Again, the second reading is on Monday June 14th, and you can watch the proceedings on CPAC.

Hello Reddit, I’m excited to be here! I’m Julie Dzerowicz, Federal MP for Davenport In Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I was elected the first female Member of Parliament for Davenport in 2015, and re-elected in 2019. You can read more about me and my background here.

This February, I introduced a private members bill - Bill C-273 - in the House of Commons that would enable a national strategy for a guaranteed basic income in Canada. This is the first time a bill has been introduced in the House of Commons on guaranteed basic income! I created Bill C-273 to provide an enabling framework for implementing basic income pilots to be created between provinces, territories, Indigenous governments, and the federal government. The full text of the bill is available here, and the second reading is coming up on Monday, June 14th!

It’s clear the way we’ve always done things isn’t working. Even before the pandemic, almost half of all Canadian families were $200 away from coming up short on their monthly bills. Our economic recovery will require a 21st-century approach that supports workers, tackles income inequality, spurs innovation, and delivers stability. Only by ensuring we have a system that properly supports Canadians, that provides true stability and removes all obstacles to the access to opportunity will we enable Canadians and Canada itself to achieve its potential.

Equal opportunity for everyone to succeed is one of my fundamental values and is at the heart of Bill C-273. I'll be answering all the questions I can from 12:30 - 2 PM ET today - Ask Me Anything!

Here’s my proof:



Comments: 384 • Responses: 18  • Date: 

alabasterhotdog62 karma

Hi Julie. As a Canadian who's been trying to find an apartment ( not even a home, I've already been well-priced out of that option) for 8 months now, and in light of what even the big 5 banks are referring to as a problematic situation, how can your government expect Canadians to continue to believe you have our interests at heart while continuing to keeps it's head in the sand about this systemic issue?

JulieDzerowicz9 karma

Thank you for this excellent question - it reflects what a lot of Canadians are worried about.

It is a top of mind issue for the PM, for the liberal govt and for me ... as many in Davenport are having issues finding an affordable place to live and/or to buy. The federal govt has invested over $40 billion for affordable housing and we have added an additional $1 billion for modular / rapid housing, invested in a lot more to create rental housing, and intro some measures to help first time owners buy a home. All of this is still not enough as is evidenced by your situation.

Last week the PM met with the Fed of Cdn Municipalities and indicated that he is making this is a TOP commitment to work with all levels of govt to better address this issue as some of the solutions / levers are are the provincial or municipal level.

We know this is top of mind for Canadians like you. We know that we have to do much more. I am also working on the issue of how to ensure artists / creators continue to be able to live/work in Toronto ... another huge issue in our riding

Surtur131352 karma

Hi Julie, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. It's always appreciated when elected representatives make themselves available to the public and earnestly respond to questions.

You've had a number of...let's politely call them "fluff ups" in recent weeks and I'm wondering if you would address them. You recently claimed in defence of breaking the strike that Montreal dock workers had been striking for over 2.5 years, when they had in fact only been striking for 3 days by that point.

Similarly, you made this (now deleted) tweet in which you're seemingly mocking a constituent for asking you to address why the government is fighting Indigenous residential school survivors in court from receiving compensation.

How do you expect constituents to trust you when you're struggling to get even basic information correct? Do you frequently not inform yourself about government issues before speaking? What do you do to prepare and ensure you know what you're talking about? Have you made changes to that process since the above incidents? Would you be happy as a constituent if your elected representative struggled with these issues?

JulieDzerowicz-2 karma

Hello - thank you for your question.

I have an unbelievable team who work with me - and we do our very best to respond to all calls, letters and social media from Davenport residents. We respond to hundreds of queries, questions, concerns, calls for help, and asks for information on a weekly basis.

We do all we can to ensure that we are responding with the best information and as truthfully as possible.

There are times when I am responding too quickly and do not read things properly - as was was the case of the social media re the Port of Montreal strike. There was no attempt to misinform ... as soon as the error was pointed out, it was corrected.

Re my response last week to a tweet suggesting that there were many federal lawsuits fighting Indigenous rights. My response tweet was to ask for the list of lawsuits to be emailed to me. My main obj was to get a list of cases of specific concern to that constituent, and to have a more comprehensive sense of the cases that may be out there.

I apologized (in my updated statement on my website-(Davenport >>Statements & Letters) for putting out the tweet as it came off as uncaring and glib which was not my intention.

I spend a lot of time making sure I am updated on issues that matter to Davenport. I put out weekly updates to make sure Davenport residents are informed on decisions of the federal government and on what I am doing (advocating, saying, etc.) on behalf of Davenport residents.

Cheshire-Kate38 karma

Is your government currently planning to do anything about the housing affordability crisis currently gripping Canada? It isn't just Toronto and Vancouver now - housing prices are exploding everywhere. As someone who's been saving up for a home, it's extremely disheartening to see prices race up and out of reach just as I was reaching the point of being able to afford one. Not to mention, rental prices are atrocious.

JulieDzerowicz4 karma

Hello - a very important q! See my response to alabasterhotdog above pls.

Scarbsmith21 karma

How do you address the concern that this bill merely applauds the notion of exploring the merits of a basic income income? Much research is already available. Why spend more time and money repeating what is already available? Definitive, implement or not, is the needed certainty many are looking for.

JulieDzerowicz10 karma

The main objective of my bill is NOT to study if basic income is a good idea because there is strong and substantial existing information from literally hundreds of pilots that have been or are currently underway; but there is much less info on the best ways or models to implement and deliver basic income.

This bill is to enable IMPLEMENTATION pilots - in order to test basic income at scale ... so a whole province or territories is part of the pilot vs a small group. The issue of scale is the key barrier to moving forward on guaranteed basic income - we need to test larger populations for a longer period of time ... to get the model right and before we can implement nationally.

Flush-with-Cash21 karma

Hi Julie, as a Canadian in Ontario (KW) struggling to make ends meet at salary above living wage, but not high enough to cope with the cost of rent, how will UBI help Canadians cover the basics without reinstating rent control?

JulieDzerowicz3 karma

Thank you for your question.

GBI will not solve all problems. We also need to do more to ensure Canadians will be able to find affordable places to live. The PM met with the federation of Canadian municipalities last week and he has committed to making housing affordability a top issue ... and to working with other levels of government who have some of the tools (e.g. zoning) that will lead to solutions. This is a top priority for me too!

What guaranteed basic income it will do is to provide stability to allow Canadians to pursue options that will allow them to be their best and productive selves.

CaptainAsh16 karma

How is UBI sustainable? I understand that the arguments are for replacement of other social services, and there’s been a lot of talk about the money being ‘roughly even’.

But we literally just passed the trillion mark for debt load after a few short months of CERB.

And, if the argument is to reduce the amount of the UBI to make it affordable, or, to focus on those impoverished, how is that universal? Or a basic income? How is that not just a rehash of our currently broken EI system?

Honesty, I was a big fan of the UBI concept until I saw the implementation of CERB. (Even though it was definitely needed).

What makes this proposal any more sustainable?

JulieDzerowicz-1 karma

Hello CaptainAsh ... great question!

In terms of cost, the bottom line is that we are currently spending hundreds of billions of dollars each year on social welfare and support programs ... while inequality grows, poverty continues and those most in need are too frequently missed. The real question needs to be - what will the cost be of not properly supporting all Canadians and of preparing our system for our world of change before us.

I also believe that GBI is a model that should form the cornerstone of Canada innovation and economic growth agenda - a model to provide the stability we need to be able to be our best and most innovative selves ... a positive return for Canada's future economy.

Ok_Stand_42115 karma

For a "feminist government" why are you still selling arms to Saudi Arabia? Your government said they wouldn't.

ponderer9920 karma

This government says a lot of things they have no intention of following through with. UBI is one, too. There's an election coming up and they need your votes NOW, then they'll "look into it."

Ok_Stand_42110 karma

Just like they've been "looking into" a national childcare program for the last 30 years.

JulieDzerowicz4 karma

We are no longer looking into national childcare - we introduced a $30 billion plan in Budget 2021. We are taking action and we are determined to get a national plan in place asap!

DiscombobulatedOne6312 karma

Could you please explain how this is feasable. Where is the money coming from? Is it tax dollars being funneled back to us? Is it coming from the rich? Is it something everyone gets or just up until a certain pay range?

JulieDzerowicz4 karma

Thank you for this question!

How to pay is a key question for any major program. We have figured it out in the past by doing trials or testing it at a provincial scale (this is how we figured out how to design and cost healthcare, pensions, etc.).

Bill C-273 is designed to allow moving forward on large-scale trials that will help us understand what the cost is and how to pay for it. It can also reveal savings from better health, lower crime and Canadians moving to better jobs. The bottom line is that we are already spending hundreds of billions of dollars each year while inequality grows, poverty continues and those most in need are too frequently missed. The real question needs to be--what will the cost be of not properly supporting all Canadians and of preparing our system for the world of change before us.

myrevenge10 karma

A constituent here.

How do you justify rejecting capital gains and inheritance taxes and then endorsing GBI?

Previous attempts at UBI have only undermined the standard of living for the working poor and furthered diminished their agency because it was used by employers to pay workers subsistence wages. It is, in effect, corporate welfare. How do you propose remedying this significant problem with UBI?

JulieDzerowicz2 karma

Hello constituent - our federal liberal government has been working to reducing income inequality since we were first elected in 2015. We increased taxes on the top 1%, reduced it or the middle class, we introduced Canada Child Benefit and increased the Guaranteed Basic Income for seniors, and increased the Canada Workers Benefit a couple of times. All of these measures were to tackle income inequality and reduced poverty by over a million Canadians.

But no matter how many steps we take, income inequality is growing; I believe Canada's current social welfare system created in the 1940s (modernized in 1970s) is outdated and too many people who need to access the system is not able to ... so I believe we need a new foundation to our social welfare system in the 21st century ... one that better supports Canadians, provides stability and reduces income inequality .. and that model is guaranteed basic income!!!

Ok_Stand_42110 karma

Thanks for doing this, and happy Pride month! When will you end the blood ban, as promised?

JulieDzerowicz4 karma

Thanks for your questions. I too would like to see the discriminatory blood ban ended as quickly as possible. Canadian Blood Services is currently working on the research that is needed to end it, and our government is funding the research.

As Health Minister Patty Hajdu said in the House just a couple weeks ago, we’ve already made progress, getting the deferral period for men who have sex with men down from five years to six months and then to three months. We need to get the issue across the finish line and I believe we will soon. Minister Hajdu is urging Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec to get their applications into Health Canada so we can finally end the ban.

scottb848 karma

Historically, income support has always been deliberately and decidedly minimal. Governments concluded that, if utter social abandonment wasn’t an option, often because of the risk of popular resistance, then social provision would be reluctantly delivered in as inadequate a form as possible. The capitalist job market rests on economic coercion and the provision of even a barely sufficient income via any other means but wage labour threatens that power. The neoliberal decades have seen the degrading of income support systems so as to drive people into low wage precarious work. Access to a secure income outside of the job market has been severely restricted, with single parent benefits being eliminated and payments to injured workers and disabled people reduced and rendered less secure.

There are no grounds, therefore, to assume that if a basic income were to be introduced, it would have some virtually magical quality that would ensure its adequacy. On the contrary, in a liberal capitalist context, a basic income would be subject to the same pressures for the same reasons as existing income support systems. Employers would be just as hostile to a basic income that meets peoples’ needs as they are to decent unemployment insurance or social assistance payments.


As I’ve argued previously, however, it is not just that basic income would fail to deliver on adequate income support and eliminating poverty. It’s that a huge extension of the cash payment would reinforce the commodification of social provision in dangerous ways. Gazan, Swift and Power clearly reject Friedman’s minimalist route and Gazan’s motion specifically calls for “wrap around” public services. However, there is no real explanation in either case of how we could prevent a real and actual basic income system from replacing, rather than augmenting, existing elements of the social infrastructure given that this is always the prime objective of right-wing models.

Gazan also maintains that “Basic income would give workers leverage.” No doubt, if everyone automatically received an income that enabled them to live perfectly well, the working class would have at its disposal a strike fund, provided by the state, and its bargaining power would be hugely enhanced. However, if a much more likely meagre cash benefit became a key source of income for the great bulk of low-wage workers, this would have the opposite effect. The basic income would serve as a subsidy to employers, paid for out of the taxes of slightly higher-waged workers. The need to seek low-wage work would be maintained but little pressure would exist to increase wages or raise the minimum wage.

What is your response to the above critique from John Clarke, a long-time anti-poverty activist in Ontario?

JulieDzerowicz5 karma

A lot of points here so I will focus on one in particular.

People who are under work instability (low wages, part-time work, gig-economy jobs) are susceptible to employer pressure.

The Stockton pilot in California showed that a support as SMALL as $500 a month was enough to give a bunch of people enough stability that they could find better jobs. And those on the pilot ended up working at the twice the rate of those who were not.

One specific Stockton story was someone who could not afford to go to an interview for a better paying job that she was fully qualified for because she could not afford to lose ONE day’s pay. The real cost of poverty is a lack of choice and resources - there is real power for employees when we support them even with the most basic of supports that delivers some stability.

LaserTurboShark698 karma

How tight are you with Leah Gazan?

JulieDzerowicz11 karma

Leah is a MP colleague and I have had the chance to chat with her on Bill C-273.

What we both have in common is a desire to better support Canadians; and that a new model is needed to support workers, to alleviate poverty and to provide Canadians the support they need in a world that is changing faster than ever before with disruptions like climate change and COVID, among others.

I put out a statement (on my website) saying I supported her Motion M-46.

Lucky_Dragonfruit_772 karma

How can I help support this Bill?

JulieDzerowicz0 karma

First off, thank you for your support! If I am not your MP ... then in terms of supporting C-273, my first suggestion is writing to your MP to ask them to vote in favour when this Bill comes before the House.

I’d also suggest talking to your friends, neighbours, co-workers etc about why you support it and help spread the word!

You can also follow me on social media on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more updates as the bill moves forwards. If your posting on social media yourself make sure to use the hashtags #C273 and #GBI

noizangel2 karma

Hi Julie! Thanks for doing this. I know disabled folks and others who depend on support are concerned a basic income program would eliminate those supports and give everyone the same amount of money instead - great that everyone gets money, but it would still leave vulnerable people behind. How would C-273 affect these support programs?

JulieDzerowicz4 karma

This is an important concern that you raise, one that is shared by those looking at how best to design basic income programs. Guaranteed basic income is not intended to replace all social supports but to offer a basic form of income stability (like we currently do for our seniors with OAS and GIS). My guaranteed basic income bill is designed to work with existing programs.

For those with greater income support needs guaranteed basic income could continue to work with existing social supports. I believe that any and all future pilots should adopt the principle of “everyone is better off“.

The operational design will be critically important in any basic income program and any basic income program needs to not only provide sufficient income but be designed to address the variability of income for particular Canadians with unique needs.

MadisonBettle2 karma

Hi Julie. Thanks for doing this. Been living in your riding for almost two months now. Glad to see you being interactive. I am still awaiting your phone call (you/your office said it would happen last week) to discuss Cystic Fibrosis, Trikafta, and the PMPRB spending taxdollars on attacking patient advocacy groups :). Hope to hear from you soon.

I am generally for UBI, but am curious how it will affect other government spending (ie. Health care). Will the government be investing more in the social determinants of health?

In terms of rare diseases, do you support the creation of a Rare Disease Strategy? Canada is the only developed country in the world without one. Will you also consider addressing the PMPRB changes and ensure that life-saving medication (like Trikafta) does come to Canada? Patty Hajdu has not given straightforward answers about this and I would be grateful if you could address the House with these concerns.

JulieDzerowicz3 karma

Hi MadisonBettle - nice to hear from you. You were on my call list last week and am so sorry I wasn't able to call you. I hope to be able to call you this week.

On Rare Diseases: in federal budget 2021 we announced our plan to provide ongoing funding of $500 million for high-cost drugs for rare diseases.

Look forward to connecting with you this week on your other questions! And welcome to Davenport ... its a great riding with awesome people and communities!

willtheoct2 karma

Thank you so much. I've lost 2 jobs to automation and without a CRB or a basic income, I'll lose my home. When will we get a basic income, will it be this year?

JulieDzerowicz1 karma

Thank you for the excellent question! You are identifying a key reason why we need to move on basic income. The world of work is changing faster than ever before and your situation is no longer unique. Many people are already moving from job to job and jobs at all skill levels are now being threatened by automation and AI.

The foundation of our current system was created in the 1970s – today, Canada needs a new foundation, one that will better support the needs of Canadian workers in the 21st century ...which is why I introduced guaranteed basic income bill C-273!