BC earmarks $4 million to explore basic income

Metro News

When Jenna van Draanen first became involved with the Basic Income Canada Network seven years ago, she found herself constantly having to explain the group’s purpose to people she met.

Now basic income — a policy idea that encompasses a range of policy options aimed at giving people cash entitlements from the government — is creeping into the mainstream, and the BC government has committed $4 million to explore its feasibility here.

“Now people on the bus behind me will be talking about it,” the University of British Columbia postdoctoral fellow said Tuesday. “It’s been incredible to see the change in the basic income movement in that time.”

Michal Rozworski, a union researcher and economist, cautioned that not all forms of basic income are equal. In what Rozworski calls its “right wing” iteration basic income could mean a negative income tax to redistribute funds to those making less money.

“At the very other end there’s an actual universal basic income: you give everyone X amount of money per year, as a transfer, period,” he explained.

Basic Income Canada Network advocates for the latter, van Draanen explained, citing research showing such systems result in better mental and physical health outcomes, as well as social cohesion.

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