Kingston’s Basic Income group pursues range of activities to push basic income policy

By Roderick Benns

Kingston, Ontario’s Basic Income advocacy group is putting forward a range of activities and ideas to educate the public and to network with their colleagues from other areas of the province and country. 

Toni Pickard, a long-time organizer for the Kingston group, says they have just completed work on a new website, and something they are calling a “Charter for Basic income.” 

“It’s an effort to set out our picture of what principles a basic income program should be guided by,” she says. 

Pickard notes that some of the points build on a November workshop agreement, as well as aspects of the design and delivery process the group feels are important. 

The Kingston group is also in the process of developing two half-hour segments on a Basic Income Guarantee with the local TV station. Among other angles, this will feature an interview with retired Conservative Senator Hugh Segal, a long-time proponent of establishing a minimum income for all Canadians. 

Three members of Kingston’s group are headed out to the North American Basic Income Guarantee congress this week. NABIG, as it is known, is in Winnipeg this year from May 12-15 at the University of Manitoba. It expects to draw scores of people from across Canada and the U.S. and some from overseas.

Basic income is developing swiftly in Canada along the political spectrum. There is a groundswell of support from mayors and municipalities, the Province of Ontario is committed to do a basic income pilot project in the coming year, and Quebec is also looking how to change its existing income supports to a system that looks more like basic income.

Also known as guaranteed minimum income, guaranteed annual income, or a negative income tax, basic income would replace various welfare programs by providing a base amount of income to all citizens, regardless of whether they work or meet a means test.

Kingston isn’t the only Ontario municipality that is active with the basic income movement. In fact, there are now 21 so-called “Ontario Action Centres” with more expected to form. 

Group members in Kingston are also thinking about how to participate in the World Social Forum 2016 activities. The forum aims to gather thousands of people from groups in civil society, organizations and social movements “who want to build a sustainable and inclusive world,” according to their website.