People with disabilities deserve a basic income

Globe and Mail

Evelyn Forget is author of Basic Income for Canadians: From the COVID-19 Emergency to Financial Security for All. Sheila Regehr is chair of the Basic Income Canada Network.

Last month’s Throne Speech committed to the creation of a new Canadian Disability Benefit for persons with disabilities – that’s good news. The details remain vague, but some disability advocates have long championed a basic income for people with disabilities. The new Disability Benefit may offer a step toward that reality.

Basic income is a guarantee that no Canadian will have to live on an income far below the poverty line. It is not a replacement for necessary public services, but rather a federal government cash transfer made directly to individuals that would replace provincial income assistance and supplement the incomes of the working poor.

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U of M researcher calls for basic income in the wake of the pandemic

CTV News

A newly released report co-authored by a professor at the University of Manitoba is calling on the federal government to guarantee a basic income for Canadians to help the economy recover from COVID-19.

The report recommends the government create a basic income guarantee of $17,000-$19,000, an amount just above the poverty line.

"We are talking about a targeted program," said Evelyn Forget, a community health sciences professor at U of M and coauthor of the report. "That means that somebody with no income would receive the full amount of the benefit. As their income increases, if they were working and earning some money, their benefit would be reduced by the amount they earned."

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Who Really Stands to Win from Universal Basic Income?

The New Yorker

n 1795, a group of magistrates gathered in the English village of Speenhamland to try to solve a social crisis brought on by the rising price of grain.

The challenge was an increase in poverty, even among the employed. The social system at the time, which came to be known as Elizabethan Poor Law, divided indigent adults into three groups: those who could work, those who could not, and those—the “idle poor”—who seemed not to want to. The able and disabled received work or aid through local parishes.

The idle poor were forced into labor or rounded up and beaten for being bums. As grain prices increased, the parishes became overwhelmed with supplicants. Terrorizing idle people turned into a vast, unmanageable task.

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Has guaranteed basic income’s time arrived? Canada may find out.

Christian Science Monitor

Jessie Golem knows the stigma of poverty. She’s been called a leech and parasite. She’s heard more times than she can count, “Go get a job.”

In fact, she always had multiple jobs. But piano lessons, gigs in dog walking, and a budding photography business – a 60-to-80-hour weekly hustle – left her just enough to pay her rent in Hamilton.

It wasn’t until she became part of a pilot program in Ontario, receiving a basic income supplement of $1,400 a month, that her working life finally came together. “It was really awesome watching my photography business grow,” she says. “I drew up a whole business plan and had a financial projection that I would only have needed to be on the basic income pilot for two of the three years.”

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B.C. Greens release platform highlighting basic income and clean economic recovery

CBC News

A B.C. Green Party would move towards a basic income program, make the province carbon neutral by 2045, and spend more than $10 billion over the next three years on a host of environmental and social election promises. 

Green Leader Sonia Furstenau made the promises as part of the party's platform, unveiled Wednesday afternoon, saying it would target people who need help now by building a stronger, more equitable and sustainable province.

"We cannot afford to go back to our old patchwork of social supports that were not meeting the needs of people," said Furstenau.

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In Pandemic Downturn, Canada's Drive For Guaranteed Basic Income Picks Up Speed

Among the enormous burdens of fending off the coronavirus pandemic, many countries closed whole sectors of the economy while boosting emergency spending to keep citizens afloat. Now in Canada, momentum is building for another extraordinary measure: a basic income guarantee.

Simply put, it's when residents receive cash from the government, without conditions, to ensure they meet their basic needs.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government has delivered pandemic emergency benefits to millions of unemployed workers since late March and students since May that together totaled more than $60 billion.

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The Basic Income Has Its Moment

Foreign Affairs

By Evelyn Forget

A basic income—a regular, unconditional payment distributed by the government—is an old idea. Thomas More wrote about it during the Renaissance in Utopia, and Thomas Paine preached its merits when the United States was in its infancy. But the idea never gained mainstream acceptance.

Although social scientists had long been testing the effects of a basic income with pilot projects around the world, it was easy to imagine that the governments permitting these experiments hoped that public enthusiasm might die out by the time the results were compiled.

After the 2008 financial crisis, the International Labor Organization, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Health Organization, and, especially, the World Bank showed some interest in a basic income. Never, however, did the idea make the leap from white papers to real-world policy.

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