Canada’s forgotten universal basic income experiment

BBC News

Evelyn Forget was a psychology student in Toronto in 1974 when she first heard about a ground-breaking social experiment that had just begun in the rural Canadian community of Dauphin, Manitoba.

“I found myself in an economics class which I wasn’t looking forward to,” she remembers. “But in the second week, the professor came in, and spoke about this wonderful study which was going to revolutionise the way we delivered social programmes in Canada. To me, it was a fascinating concept, because until then I’d never really realised you could use economics in any kind of positive way.”

The experiment was called ‘Mincome’, and it had been designed by a group of economists who wanted to do something to address rural poverty. Once it was implemented in the area, it had real results: over the four years that the program ended up running in the 1970s, an average family in Dauphin was guaranteed an annual income of 16,000 Canadian dollars ($11,700, £9,400).

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Canadian basic income experiment life-changing for those unemployed during pandemic

The World

Beverly Harlow is clearly in her element as she wanders among the poultry taking over her backyard near Lindsay, Ontario, northeast of Toronto.

A flock of ducklings and 16 chickens peck at her feet. She expects that all these birds will produce a rainbow assortment of eggs — enough to feed the family and send the surplus to a local food bank.

“They’ll be blue, green; I have one breed that does pink, brown and olive color eggs as well,” she said. “So, I’m really excited about that.”

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Finland’s basic income never failed, our ‘jobs’ did

Basic Income Earth Network

This past week, Finland released the final results from its two-year “basic income” experiment. The program produced a modest increase in working days among basic income recipients and noticeable improvements in perceived happiness and healthiness.

Is this a surprise? When governments give people cash assistance, of course, their lives will improve. And with financial stress alleviated, these recipients will still find productive uses for their time. 

Simply imagine the unearned suffering billions of people could have been spared if governments had implemented basic income prior to the pandemic and global economic depression. 

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Majority of Canadians support a universal basic income: study

The Daily Hive

Most Canadians support the concept of bringing in a universal basic income (UBI), but the majority also don’t want to pay for it.

A new study from the Angus Reid Institute found that, of the 1,510 Canadians who responded to the online survey between June 8 and 10, the majority support bringing in some form of UBI. Something similar has already been seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, as over seven million Canadians have been supported through the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit.

The New Democratic Party’s Jagmeet Singh called for the CERB to be turned into a universal benefit in April, though the proposal was rejected by the Liberal Party, according to the Angus Reid report.
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Write to your MP - template letter for basic income


Dear basic income supporters:

We are at a critical juncture in Canada where emergency COVID-19 benefits can be wound down or reshaped into an ongoing basic income that enables everyone to be part of a better, new normal.

If you can do one thing in this moment in history, when government action is urgently needed, please write to your Member of Parliament and tell them you want them to actively work for a basic income.

We have created a downloadable template letter in both English and French to help facilitate this.

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Universal basic income could change more than how we work


Some people see the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) as a load of government debt that will burden future generations. Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has said the benefit pays people not to work, weakening our economy. My personal story of receiving the CERB, and my faith, compel me to think differently.

I was laid off in March, so my activities since then don’t count by traditional economic measures like gross domestic product (GDP).

GDP basically measures how much money is being exchanged. It is often used as a primary indicator of economic and social well-being. The CERB has helped me explore how I can benefit society beyond paid work — endeavours that could be continued if a universal basic income program was implemented after the COVID-19 crisis.

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Has coronavirus changed the basic income debate?

BBC News

A basic income system would provide every individual in the country with a cash payment at regular intervals, without any requirement to work or qualify for it.

This payment would be given to every citizen regardless of their wealth, employment or personal status. A range of different figures have been suggested, but it would be enough to cover the basics of life and would serve as a replacement for all existing benefit payments.

There have long been debates about whether this would be a guaranteed safety net that would expand freedom of choice and cut bureaucracy in the welfare system, or a ruinously expensive incentive for people to do less work.

Up until now, in the UK at least, it has chiefly been chin-stroking fodder for think tank round-tables and discussion papers.

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