Canada: Meet the minister who wrote the book on Basic Income

By Pierre Madden

Basic Income Earth Network

On November 12 and 13 I attended a congress of the Liberal Party of Quebec, which is currently in power in the province.

The Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity, François Blais, confirmed that a joint working group, with his colleague in Finance, will issue a preliminary report on Basic Income in the Spring. Our neighbouring province of Ontario (which, together with Quebec accounts for 62 percent of the population of Canada) was just released a working paper on a pilot project to begin in April 2017. Quebec does not seem to be leaning towards a pilot project.

In his talk, Minister Blais placed much emphasis on the principles underlying the development of the government’s project:

 

  • The development of human capital (though education, for example)
  • The obligation of protection from certain risks (with unemployment insurance and health insurance, for example)
  • Income redistribution

The minister’s speech was highly focused on incentives to work or study (especially for the illiterate or those without a high school diploma).

The principle of unconditionality, a fundamental aspect of Basic Income, will likely not be a feature of the government’s plan.

On the second day of the congress it was the minister’s turn to ask me if he had answered my question. I described my own situation as a case in point. 

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