Precarious work, technological advances drive basic income interest

By Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press

In the mid- to late 1970s, every single person in one rural Manitoba city received $1,255 a year — roughly $7,500 in today’s dollars.

The amount increased depending on the number of people living in each household, maxing out at $3,969, or nearly $23,500 in 2016 currency, for a family of five or more.

The people in the Dauphin, Man., experiment didn’t have to work to receive this stipend. If they did, their benefit dropped 50 cents for every dollar they received.

The residents of Dauphin just had to exist to receive their full guaranteed annual income.

About four decades later, policy-makers and the public in Canada and around the world are eyeing the basic guaranteed income scheme again, buoyed by an evolving labour landscape and technological advances that have left them wondering if today’s social services are enough.

Finland plans to launch a basic income pilot next year. The Swiss will soon vote on unconditional basic income in a referendum.

Closer to home, the Ontario government’s latest budget promises to run a pilot in the future and multiple politicians across Canada have expressed interest in studying the idea.

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