Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Earnings Supplementation for British Columbia: Pros, Cons, and Structure

Kesselman, Jonathan and Petit, Gillian (2020): Earnings Supplementation for British Columbia: Pros, Cons, and Structure.


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This paper provides background on key issues for the reform of earnings supplement (ES) programs in B.C.: motivation, policy history, and structure of existing and potential provisions. ES programs offer benefits that are linked to an individual’s earnings, as distinguished from programs that offer cash transfers that are unconditional on work or earnings. Thus, the motivations for the ES benefit structure are related to views about reciprocity, self-respect, and social participation and contribution. As a consequence, ES programs have garnered wide support across the political spectrum. The paper describes the ES benefit structure, its parameters, and its operational aspects. The federal Canada Workers Benefit (CWB) is the only ES program currently available for B.C. residents. Options for reform or enhancement of the CWB for B.C. workers are surveyed and assessed at a qualitative level: cost-free reconfiguration of the CWB, provincial top-ups to the CWB, and the institution of a B.C. scheme funded and operated by the province.

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