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When there’s no competition for services such as welfare and unemployment insurance, there’s no market discipline forcing government bureaucracies to listen to its “customers.”

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An idea that would fundamentally change the way governments provide income support has received renewed attention in Canada and around the world. The idea: replace the current complex tangle of government income support programs with a single cash transfer to individuals or families.

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Surrey MLA Jagrup Brar's attempt to spend January living on the $610 welfare rate for a single employable individual has succeeded in getting people talking about the adequacy of welfare. Brar's actions are in response to a challenge issued by Raise the Rates, a coalition of community groups that wants to double welfare benefits. But despite all the publicity Brar has received, the reality is that for most recipients, welfare is adequate and raising benefits would only create further welfare dependency.