Canada is seeing increased public and government support for a guaranteed minimum income, with a pilot-project set for 2017.
As automation, digitization, and globalization alter labour market dynamics, calls are increasing for governments to augment their poverty strategies. One such proposal is the introduction of a guaranteed minimum income in order to provide for essentials and reduce poverty. Canada is planning a pilot project in Ontario to study the potential benefits of a guaranteed minimum income scheme.
2016 marks turning point for guaranteed minimum income in Canada
The provincial budget released by Ontario’s Liberal government in March includes a plan to launch a guaranteed minimum income pilot project.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and finance minister Charles Sousa announced the trial project earlier this spring, as part of the new budget. The pilot is slated to start in 2017, although the location of the trial has not yet been determined. Some are suggesting industrial cities hit hard by decreased manufacturing, such as Windsor on the Canadian border with Detroit.
There is an increasing interest in Canada to implement a guaranteed minimum income scheme. Sheila Regehr, chair of Basic Income Canada points to the changing attitude following the Liberal victory in the general election. “Given the past federal election you see a completely different mood in Canada now. I think a lot of people have been interested, but lying low – and it’s just bubbling up now all over.”
Indeed, in a recent poll, 41% of Ontarians expressed support for the idea, with 33% opposed and 26% remaining unsure. The drop in oil prices and sluggish growth in Canada are likely important elements influencing public opinion, especially after years of increasing poverty and austerity from the previous Harper government. Canada has already conducted a successful trial in Dauphin, Manitoba in the 1970s, yet the developments of 2016 are especially interesting. While the New Democratic Party and Green Party have expressed their support, the fact that Liberals, Canada’s historical governing party are on board, is vital.
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