Basic income is back in fashion -- and Ontario could learn from past mistakes

By Ashley Csanady for the National Post

Basic income is the romper of economic policy.

It was last en vogue in the 1970s and in the midst of a popular renaissance. Just as you can barely go a day without seeing a grown woman in a onesie, you can barely go a week without a headline proclaiming some form of guaranteed annual income as a poverty panacea. 

From Alberta to Africa, leaders are openly mulling the concept of guaranteeing a base level of monetary support for all citizens. Pilot programs in countries as diverse as Kenya and the Netherlands are underway. Brazil offers all young mothers cash cards directly to help cover diaper and food costs — a simple form of basic income. Like rompers, however, when it comes to basic income, one-size most certainly does not fit all. 

There are many options available, despite the common misconception it’s just a universal cash payout — that’s why Ontario, which promised in its 2016 budget to launch a basic income pilot, tapped in late June outside experts to write a report to tell it which models to test out.

Yet, ensuring all citizens have the means to meet their most basic needs amid growing economic offers a certain elegance to policy wonks: do away with bloated bureaucracies and myriad programs and replace them all with a singular, simplified program.

To read more, click here.