MP Julie Dzerowicz introduces private members bill to establish national strategy for a guaranteed basic income

Julie Dzerowicz, Member of Parliament for Davenport, has introduced legislation in the House of Commons that would enable a national strategy for a guaranteed basic income in Canada. 

This is the first time a bill has been introduced in the House of Commons on guaranteed basic income.    

If passed, this bill would enable the federal government to establish pilot projects in one or more provinces to test models of implementation of a guaranteed basic income program; create a framework of national standards to guide the implementation of a guaranteed basic income program in any province, and collect data on the impact on government (including responsiveness, cost and reducing the complexity of and/or replacing existing social programs), on recipients, and on recipient communities (including entrepreneurship, job creation and civic action).

Canada’s current social welfare system was created in the 1970s. No matter how many times it is adjusted still too many people fall through the cracks, says a media release.

“Canada needs a robust social welfare system that meets the needs of the 21st century worker, that is more flexible and adaptive while being less complex and better at tackling inequality,” says Dzerowicz.

“It is also important to provide Canadians stability with full and equal access to opportunities so they can be more innovative. I believe that guaranteed basic income could be the key tool that helps deliver on all that and this bill enables us to test it,” she adds.

The world of work is under constant change with many shifting to the gig economy of temporary and short-term contracts and others are being impacted by the effect of automation and AI. It is important for our social welfare system to better reflect the needs of Canadians for today and tomorrow and to be much more flexible at managing labour changes, disruptions and transitions. Bill C-273 proposes that guaranteed basic income is tested as a model that may deliver more flexibility for the new world of workers.

Sheila Regehr, Chair, Basic Income Canada Network, says “This bill takes the building blocks of better income security for all Canadians—the experience, evidence, expertise and know-how we possess—and puts the gears in motion to make it happen.”

BICN is a non-partisan organization that has been working with all parties. This bill, calling for a national strategy, is in line with recommendations in BICN’s brief to the 2021 Pre-Budget Consultations.

Floyd Marinescu, Executive Director, UBI Works, says “Basic Income could create 300,000-600,000 jobs and add $80B/yr to Canada's GDP while ensuring we have abolished working poverty. In this period of rapid disruption of work and declining social mobility, basic income defends equality of opportunity and unlocks our ability to take risks: a key factor for improving Canada's innovation and labour market productivity.”

 

As Canada moves its way through this pandemic, it is planning for post- COVID with the intention to spend $70-$100 billion over three years to jumpstart the Canadian economy, It’s the perfect time to fix structural issues, to test innovative ideas, and to build our economic and social foundations back better.

Canada has been criticized for lagging on innovation and productivity. Strong policies, mechanisms and programs are needed to fully focus on improving our innovative potential including ensuring Canadians have the stability they need in order to innovate and take risks, which guaranteed basic income can provide.

Basic income experts, academics and thought leaders have made it clear that there is already strong existing information that supports the effectiveness of guaranteed basic income but less so on the best ways or models to implement and deliver it. Bill C-273 is focused on enabling the capacity to frame, test and validate different models of implementation to get to those answers and that data.

This legislation comes as provinces like Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island consider their own basic income pilots.

“A Guaranteed Basic Income has been bandied about for years and this Bill could provide for the implementation of pilot projects that would allow the collection of data; therefore, decisions could be made on real facts rather than assumptions. I would welcome such a pilot for PEI,” says Wayne Easter, Member of Parliament, Malpeque, Prince Edward Island.