Basic income pilot project a taste of things to come

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The recent announcement that the provincial government will fund a basic income pilot project had Windsor’s politicians clamouring to make the case that our city, struggling with chronically high unemployment and persistent poverty, was the perfect proving ground for a seemingly radical approach to public spending.

While pushing for the pilot project was an opportunity any elected leader would take, it’s perhaps a signal that their often-touted dedication to creating jobs and reducing unemployment is at odds with the trends of a changing world.

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Basic Income at the World Social Forum Aug 9-14 in Montreal

[The following information is courtesy of Luc Gosselin, of Revenu de base Québec.]

In recent months, Revenu de base Québec (RBQ) and the French Mouvement français pour un revenu de base (MFRB) have joined forces to design and prepare a program on basic income (BI) for the 2016 World Social Forum (WSF2016). They have participated in meetings of three committees (Economy, Health and Cultural events), finding in all three a general interest in and support for BI. RBQ and MFRB have both been communicating with groups advocating for a BI elsewhere in the world as well. WSF events gather tens of thousands of participants. Typically, about 80% of them come from the host country. The entire Forum will be multilingual.

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Canada to trial guaranteed basic income

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. 

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Blaikie supports basic income concept, but says now it must be defined

By Roderick Benns

NDP Winnipeg MP Dan Blaikie says he is proud of his party’s recent support of the principle of basic income and says now the work beings to actually define what this means.

Blaikie – considered to be one of the most promising new MPs in Parliament – says he has “long been interested in the idea.”

He points out that the recent resolution in support of basic income at the party’s Edmonton convention was to affirm the party’s support for the concept, study it further, and to support a pilot project.

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London debate highlights basic income arguments

An “Oxford-style” debate on basic income, attended by “hundreds of interested and engaged citizens,” was held April 18th at the Central Library in London (Ontario). (Watch the event: https://www.londonpubliclibrary.ca/story/2016/04/25/basic-income-guarantee-debate-video.) The debate highlighted some arguments against basic income that advocates must effectively counter: that basic income would link to the erosion of the “welfare state” and thus lead to a perpetuation and worsening of poverty; and that basic income would be cost-prohibitive and could not be afforded alongside other key investments in social security and social development. 

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Panel discussion on Basic Income to be held in Toronto: BICN chair to participate

By Roderick Benns

The chair of the Basic Income Canada Network, Sheila Regehr, will be speaking alongside other distinguished panelists at a community forum on Universal Basic Income in Toronto in June.

In addition to Regehr, MP Adam Vaughn (who also serves as a parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) will speak, as will Josephine Grey, director of Low Income Families Together (LIFT).

John Clarke, organizer of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty is also a panelist. The panel discussion will be moderated by Jacquie Chic from Ryerson University.

She is also a board member of Kensington-Bellwoods Community Legal Services (KBCLS) who are sponsoring the discussion.

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Basic income must allow people to live with dignity

By Aaron Broverman -- Yahoo Finance

When the Ontario Government included a paragraph in the 2016 budget discussing plans for a pilot program testing universal basic income, those on welfare and disability income support probably took notice.

Currently, if you’re collecting monthly Ontario Works payments – the province’s version of welfare – you receive a maximum between $681 per month as a single person and $1,408 as part of a couple with two children. The maximum monthly cheque for those on the Ontario Disability Support Program [ODSP] is a bit higher, between $1,110 for a single person  and $2,025 for a couple with two children. Neither payment is anywhere near the average cost of living in Ontario. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which sets the living wage for the province ($18.52 per hour, per person), puts average expenses for a family of four in Toronto at $65,850.55 a year. The ODSP payment at its maximum would pay out $24,300 a year.

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