Chairperson's Message


Welcome to our new website, launched at the end of August 2015! We hope you’ll check it out and continue to visit for knowledge, news and developments. Sign up for email notices, too, to get periodic highlights. There is indeed much that’s developing. Local and regional action is growing. Support is coming from a wide spectrum; university students to seniors, public health agencies and precarious workers to leading economists, and many more. With PEI’s premier supporting a basic income guarantee, Calgary and Edmonton mayors declaring leadership on the issue at municipal level, and a federal election on the horizon, the political landscape is ripe with potential.

Here's how to show your support right now for the basic income idea!

Simply sign on to our progress bar, the website’s feature that allows your support for a basic income to be counted, whether you want to be involved with BICN in any way -- or not.

The higher the count, the stronger the message, so spread the word to everyone you know who wants a Canada where everyone is guaranteed enough income to meet basic needs and live with dignity. By supporting the idea, you pave the way for the practical reality of designing an effective working model of basic income for Canada. You will help put it on the radar of politicians, fellow Canadians and the media, place it higher on government agendas, and encourage informed conversation and democratic deliberation that leads to good public policy.

If you have questions about the basic income idea, our website’s resources and connections are plentiful and offer a variety of perspectives. Here are a few of many reasons why the conversation is taking a whole new turn in Canada now.

  • Canada has more experience with basic income than many realize. We’ve had forms of basic income guarantee (or what used to be called guaranteed annual income) for seniors and families with children for many years; they work and we can learn from them. We ran four-year long pilots in the 1970s that included all ages, which we know produced individual and community-wide health and economic benefits.
  • Income security and public services are more effective when they work together. Canada’s health care system, for example, is more effective and less expensive if people can afford food, shelter, basic medicine and other means to live a healthy life and fight off illness. Education resources go farther if students are not too hungry or stressed to concentrate on schoolwork. Income security, childcare and labour laws help parents balance their family’s material and care needs.
  • We have options. Some approaches to the basic income idea involve overhauling or abolishing a great many programs into a single basic income, a degree of change that causes some people great concern. Canada is fortunate to have options that include simplifying and streamlining while building on models that are already working, filling in gaps and improving as we go.
  • Hard-nosed reality. There is widespread recognition, even by traditionally conservative economic organizations and some members of wealthy elites, that we have reached dangerous levels of inequality in wealth, income, control over time and health. Along this path lies potential for great unrest, which is not good for economies overall, and a concern about where profits will come from if an ever larger share of customers can’t afford what’s being produced.
  • The world of work. The notion that people won’t work if they have a basic income is a recurring theme but the weight of evidence indicates that’s not what happens and it’s not what we need to worry about. Without a basic income, the far more serious work challenges we face will get worse. Many people already work too hard at jobs that pay too little. Others cannot even find steady, decent jobs or are overwhelmed by the demands of unpaid work looking after their families. Precarious employment is becoming the new norm and the need for human labour is shrinking rapidly due to automation. A basic income is not the answer to all these issues but it is a logical foundation for a modern, peaceful democracy like Canada.

Thank you to everyone who is making our new website possible and to everyone who in different ways is working to define the basic income guarantee we want in Canada.

Sheila Regehr
Basic Income Canada Network