Case for Basic Income
In 2016 the the federal Liberals voted to shake-up Canada’s social policy by moving toward a “minimum guaranteed income” model, or basic income.
Now, the party wants to push that message hard again in 2018 with another resolution in support of a basic income guarantee for all Canadians.
At the party’s national convention held in Winnipeg two years ago, the resolution states the party will, in consultation with the provinces, “develop a poverty reduction strategy aimed at providing a minimum guaranteed income.”
At the time, reaction from the Basic Income Canada Network (BICN) was swift.
“This is a very exciting development, and one that will inform Minister (Jean-Yves) Duclos’ mandate to pursue a poverty reduction strategy,” said Robin Boadway, a retired economics professor and BICN member.
“Importantly, the resolution recognizes that the federal government need not await the results of pilot projects to move ahead with a basic income program with the engagement of the provinces.”
Alan Gummo, a retired planner and public policy researcher, as well as a BICN member, said he was “particularly pleased about the unequivocal nature of the resolution.”
Quebec recently passed a limited basic income model for people unable to work. Ontario is in the middle of a pilot project for three cities in that province to study the effects of a minimum income. Prince Edward Island has also expressed strong interest. Now, B.C. has committed money to studying basic income as well.
The new 2018 resolution for the meetings that begin April 19 in Halifax is as follows:
- the Liberal Party of Canada adopted a priority resolution at the 2016 National Convention to work with provinces and develop a poverty reduction strategy aimed at providing a minimum guaranteed income;
- almost 5 million Canadians live in poverty;
- the gap between the highest and lowest incomes continues to grow with each passing year;
- some economists believe that maintaining growth in industrialized countries requires a narrowing of this gap to stimulate household consumption;
- technological advances, and in particular advances in artificial intelligence, will lead to the loss of many skilled and unskilled jobs;
- people who lose their jobs will have to retrain, perhaps several times in their lives;
- a guaranteed minimum income would constitute an unconditional source of income, which could be used by everyone as he or she sees fit;
- according to some studies, the guaranteed minimum income could replace other provincial and federal government benefits and would require less administrative work, particularly because of the lack of controls;
- a pilot project on Guaranteed Minimum Income is currently underway in Ontario and a similar project is being considered in Québec and other Canadian provinces;
- the federal government could intervene in this jurisdiction, as it did for universal health insurance;
BE IT RESOLVED the Government of Canada:
- review past and ongoing guaranteed minimum income pilot projects, as well as studies carried out by academic experts on the subject
- ensure any guaranteed minimum income model is universal, equitable and sustainable for the benefit of all Canadians;
- inform and consult with the public on the implementation of this model.