Advisory Council Biographies

Stéphane Boisvert is a volunteer from Ottawa who has a key role in supporting BICN’s website presence as a public resource on basic income. He has been a freelance programmer, worked for prominent parliamentarians as a team lead for the web of a political party and now works for Automattic, the makers of WordPress.com as a team lead for the WordPress.com VIP service. He believes a basic income can benefit everyone and in particular has a deep concern for, and experience with, the struggle to deal with mental health issues.

Vivian Caron is a Tribal Social Development Officer working mainly in the area of Income Assistance. She lives in Manitoba where about 46% of First Nations people living on reserve are dependent on IA. She previously worked in the areas of program administration in Health, Child & Family Services, and Employment & Training and is concerned that the provision of public services has resulted in little improvement in well-being of people on reserves. Her educational background is in Social Development, Business Administration, and Human Relations Management.

Dr. Jurgen De Wispelaere is a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Tampere, where he coordinates a course on basic income, and a Senior Researcher with the Kela-led working group preparing the first national basic income experiment in Finland. He has taught at distinguished universities in Canada and around the world, his work appears in many academic journals and he is founding editor of the journal Basic Income Studies. He is a past board member of BICN and organized the 2014 BIEN Congress in Montreal.

Kelly Ernst is a past Chair of BICN, is currently the Interim Executive Director of the Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity in Calgary and President of The Strategic Intelligence Alliance Inc., He has worked previously with the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership. In his volunteer work, he is President of the Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association and Advisory Member of the Chinook Lesbian and Gay Endowment Fund, an endowment of The Calgary Foundation.

Mike Fletcher is not a typical accountant, with 35 years of of diverse consulting and training experience in all parts of Canada and abroad. He has worked extensively with First Nations, for the past six years providing training in Nunavut. Mike is also a professional speaker who talks about the Triple Bottom Line of profit, people and planet. He is particularly interested in the wider range of possibilities and career choices people would be able to make if they didn’t have to worry so much about meeting their basic needs.

Joe Foster is a member of the Ottawa basic income group, and as a federal party Critic on Poverty he researched basic income, concluding that it is the right approach and has an economic justification as well as a social basis. His resolution on supporting a basic income was adopted by his party in 2014. Joe also brings a focus on disability issues to BICN. He has written articles which can be found on the BICN website and he helped coordinate the 2015 Ontario-wide BIG conference in Kingston.

John Green founded the Basic Income Waterloo Region in early 2014 to advocate in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. With an email list of 70 and about a dozen active volunteers, the group networks with anti-poverty organizations, gives presentations, contributes to local media and meets with politicians. John knows first hand about the problems with working that are inherent in the rules imposed by the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and knows that basic income is a better way. He is on the BICN Communications Team.

James Hughes has spent most of a lifetime fighting poverty through non-governmental, governmental and philanthropic work and brings considerable strategic insight to BICN. He is President of the Graham Boeckh Foundation, a leading philanthropic organization in the mental health sector.  He was an appointed board member of the National Council of Welfare for several years, and has participated on many other national boards, including Prosper Canada, Raising the Roof and Portage.  In his career he has been a practicing lawyer, the Director General of the Old Brewery Mission, Quebec’s largest homeless shelter for men and women, and Deputy Minister of New Brunswick’s Department of Social Development. He is the author of a book called “Early Intervention” (Lorimer 2015) and believes a basic income may be one of the key missing early interventions to renew our welfare state.

Tara Kainer represents the Kingston Action Group for a Basic Income that has inspired many others, organizing public events with prominent speakers, getting City Council to support basic income, writing op-eds, reaching out to varied organizations and more. Tara has experienced poverty, is an active volunteer, was employed as a housing support worker and now works in the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office of the Sisters of Providence of St.Vincent de Paul, in areas of affordable housing and income and food security. Wanda Macdonald represents a the CHRC Coalition, an Ottawa-wide network of 6 Community Health Centres and 7 Community Resource Centres with connections to centres in the Champlain region as well. The Coalition provides services and also advocates for healthy public policy to ensure governments and stakeholders are informed by a community-based perspective and understanding of income as a social determinant of health for individuals and communities. Wanda is the CEO of Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre.

Wanda Macdonald represents a the CHRC Coalition, an Ottawa-wide network of 6 Community Health Centres and 7 Community Resource Centres with connections to centres in the Champlain region as well. The Coalition provides services and also advocates for healthy public policy to ensure governments and stakeholders are informed by a community-based perspective and understanding of income as a social determinant of health for individuals and communities. Wanda is the CEO of Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre.

Elizabeth McGuire is Chair of the Campaign for Adequate Welfare and Disability Benefits, a grass-roots social justice group that helps those who have lost their voice to find it again. As Chair for the past four years, she has led CAWDB in organizing its speakers series and events such as annual rallies, where a recent theme has been ‘Inequality Hurts Everybody’. She developed a plan to ‘facilitate basic income’ which she presented to Hamilton city hall, on behalf of Hamilton BIG, where her motion passed.

Dr. Lynn McIntyre is a retired University of Calgary professor of community health sciences and public health physician, with over 25 years of research experience in the field of household food insecurity. For years, she has argued that income and not food is required to address the problem. She has several publications related to basic income in which she uses the model of seniors’ pensions to illustrate the impact of basic income on health and food security outcomes. She is delighted that a new generation of public health physicians has embraced basic income as a way forward to achieve health equity.

John Mills is a member of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction and a member of its offshoot Speak Now! whereby individuals tell their stories in order to paint a picture of the human face of poverty. He is also President of Mood Menders Support Services, a peer support organization working with those who suffer from non-psychotic illness such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. John has 30 years experience in the information technology sector, the last 10 as IT director for a publisher.

Sharon Murphy has an MSW and a career of over 30 years, primarily at a mental health clinic in Nova Scotia. She has also worked on boards and committees such as: Canada Without Poverty; Kairos; the Poverty Action Committee in Amherst, which she chaired; a transition house for battered women; the Cumberland African Nova Scotia Association; the Association of Social Workers; and the Affordable Housing Association. She received the provincial volunteer of the year award in 2006 and a distinguished service award in 2007. In retirement, Sharon continues to work as a community activist promoting basic income.

Chandra Pasma is an Ottawa-based policy analyst working on issues of income security, poverty, taxation and gender and politics. She has worked in politics, for non-profits, and for one of Canada’s largest labour unions. She regularly writes and presents on basic income issues. Chandra is the author of a paper comparing the costs and consequences of prison spending with a guaranteed annual income, an international review of ‘Basic Income Programs and Pilots’ and a critical analysis of the so-called work disincentive. Chandra is also the co-author, with Jim Mulvale, of ‘Income Security for All Canadians: Understanding Guaranteed Income’.

Rob Rainer has been working hard for basic income since early 2013. He is the current Chair of the provisional steering committee of the Ontario Basic Income Network and is chairing the planning team for the 2018 North American Basic Income Congress. Rob has held public interest leadership positions since 1993 with experience at community, regional, national and international levels. During his time as Executive Director of Canada Without Poverty, he engaged with civil society and government representatives to advance solutions to poverty. In 2012, he was presented by then-Senator Hugh Segal with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his leadership.

Yvonne Stanford has training in economics, social work, education, accounting and mediation. Through a long career as social worker, activist and community organizer, she has board experience with organizations such as the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, Canadian Peace Alliance, Oxfam Canada, women’s Centre of Calgary. Currently, she is a part of Calgary Social Workers for Social Justice, working in collaboration on basic income issues with other groups such as the Calgary Ability Network, the city-wide Social Policy Collaborative, and the newly formed Basic Income Alberta action group.

Matt Talsma became interested in basic income when he was teaching a course called Technology and the City developing a lecture on the future of work and society. He has a graduate degree in economic geography and professional experience in research and education. He has taken up a leadership role in Basic Income Toronto (BITO) where his focus is on outreach and education to inform the broader public about basic income, including through networking with other local basic income groups.

Carter Vance currently lives in Ottawa, and is pursuing a Masters in Political Economy at Carleton University. He was a student in psychology when he was inspired, as so many Canadians have been, by hearing Hugh Segal speak to the basic income idea. Carter became more involved in basic income during further studies and now as a member of the Canadian Association of Social Workers who has worked in both frontline and analysis roles. His perspective, which includes a focus on effective ways to meet social needs that respect individual autonomy, is also informed by personal experience of family poverty and social assistance as he was growing up.