At the end of the debate on Motion 30 on April 21, 2021, MLA Hannah Bell spoke about “conditionality”:
Finally, we also know that one of the main things that came out of the special committee in poverty that did such great work here on a basic income, one of the most important principles that committee identified that I think we need to take to heart when we talk about how we provide services and programs to people who are living in poverty is this notion of conditionality, that we have to have conditions about how you are eligible and why you get support.
Conditionality is where bureaucracy loves to live. Conditionality is where the rules happen that prevent people from being able to get the services they need and conditionality is where somebody, somewhere, gets to decide who is and is not eligible. The core of a program that is based in security and dignity does not have conditions; it has support.
If you want to see a pure expression of conditionality-gone-mad, consult the Cohabitation Policy of PEI’s Social Assistance program: what this policy attempts to do, in the name of verifying “family living arrangements for the purpose of determining eligibility,” is to attempt to describe conditions where government should consider two people effectively “married” so that “couples living together shall not receive a financial advantage over married persons by denying the existence of such a relationship.”
This includes conditions such as “The couple attends church or benevolent organizations and their related functions as a family unit,” ”The couple is listed as husband and wife (Mr. and Mrs.) on voters’ lists, assessment rolls, etc.” and “Vacation as a couple.”
This is an instance of conditionality entirely of government’s own making: it has built a structure based on certain legacy assumptions about individuals and families, and then built an additional policy on top of that in the name of “verifying compliance” with the very fictional world view it’s created.
This is not a hallmark of a “program that is based in security and dignity,” it is, rather, condescending, onerous to maintain, and needlessly adversarial.