Wealth of discussion, events and academic papers in Canada for Basic Income Week and beyond

By Roderick Benns

The ninth annual Basic Income Week surpassed all expectations in Canada with a plethora of basic income-related activities of note. This reflects only a limited cross-section of activities: 

Ontario Basic Income Pilot 

Nowhere is the discussion about basic income more developed than in Ontario where the government is poised to release the parameters of a basic income pilot this fall. No one knows yet where the pilot will be set up, or in how many locations, nor the number of people this will affect. Retired Conservative Senator Hugh Segal acted as special adviser for the project and has already reported back to the Province on his recommendations. 

Segal has long been an advocate for a basic income guarantee and has spent 40 years of his professional life arguing for the policy as a way to mitigate poverty.

Pilot Lessons 

A well-received academic paper from Dr. Evelyn L. Forget, Dylan Marando, Tonya Surman and Michael Crawford Urban is called Pilot Lessons: How to design a basic income pilot project for Ontario. Forget – who is an economist and professor at the University of Manitoba – is well known for her analysis of Canada’s Mincome project from the 1970s which was held in Dauphin, Manitoba. This new report makes a series of recommendations for how to design the pilot that the Ontario Government has promised to conduct. 

“Taking into account recent changes to the structure of the labour market and the impending effects of technology and automation on jobs, Pilot Lessons explores how a basic income could impact entrepreneurship, innovation and society’s relationship to work. Combining these analyses of past experiments and the current context, the report makes recommendations on how Ontario could best design a basic income pilot project.”

Poll catches fire across country 

Originating out of a community engagement project in a low-income neighbourhood in Toronto, a Change.org poll was started with modest expectations but quickly caught on across the country.  

Canadian Dimension 

In its summer 2016 edition, Canadian Dimension Magazine has released a basic income-focused edition. As they note in their preamble: 

“Passions are running particularly high in Canada at the moment, with governments in the two largest provinces proposing to put some form of basic income on trial in the new few years, in addition to the major basic income initiatives afoot around the world. Few will argue there is no need for fundamental reform of Canadian social assistance and income security programs. One-in-five Canadian children live in poverty, a rate that is double in Indigenous communities.”

Basic Income in Manitoba 

To mark Basic Income Week in Manitoba, the Basic Income Manitoba group launched its new website here

New paper argues for Basic Income through OAS example 

A new academic study by Lynn McIntyre, Daniel Dutton, Cynthia Kwok, and Herb Emery argues that the Old Age Security (OAS) program and its supplement for those with low incomes act as a type of basic income guarantee for older Canadians, which has had a measurable impact on food security. 

“One measure of extreme poverty is food insecurity. This study…shows that guaranteed annual income is effective in decreasing food insecurity among low income seniors in Canada. Turning 65 and being eligible for this funding is associated with, on average, a 15 percentage point drop in food insecurity compared to baseline,” they write. 

Guelph event on Basic Income 

Basic Income Canada Network Chair Sheila Regehr will be the keynote speaker at an event on Sept. 28th in Guelph presented by: Guelph Community Health Centre, Guelph and Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination and CFUW Guelph. The evening, which is open and free to attend, is billed as: 

Can a Basic Income Guarantee Eliminate Poverty?

Regehr will be “in conversation with Peter Clutterbuck, from the Social Planning Network of Ontario, Noah Zon, Director of Policy and Research, Maytree, and Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.

For more details on the event click here.