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: 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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What would happen if we just gave people money?

By Andrew Flowers for FiveThirtyEight

Daniel Straub remembers the night he got hooked on basic income. He had invited Götz Werner, a billionaire owner of a German drugstore chain, to give an independent talk in Zurich, where Straub was working as a project manager for a think tank. He had read an article about the radical proposal to unconditionally guarantee citizens an income and spent a few years casually researching the idea. Straub had heard Werner was a good speaker on the topic, and that night in 2009 he was indeed excellent at connecting with the audience, a sold-out house of 200. “It was a very intense evening; people were paying attention,” Straub recalled.

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Basic income in real life: politics and policy

This article was first featured in the UM Today e-newsletter at the University of Manitoba

The basic income idea is to ensure everyone sufficient income to meet basic needs and live with dignity, regardless of work status. In reality, in pilots and in current programs, it can take different forms. Whether in Canada, India, Finland or the United States, basic income possibilities and options are going to reflect their political and policy context.

The political landscape now in Canada is fascinating. In recent months, political parties have adopted resolutions supporting basic income, prominent mayors have declared leadership on the issue, municipal governments have endorsed it, the government of Quebec declared it’s intent to move in the direction of a basic income and the Ontario government announced it is planning a pilot. The federal government appointed a minister who has written on the subject and is now charged with developing a poverty reduction strategy. The federal government is also promising evidence-based policy and greater cooperation with other orders of government, a big change from the politics of the last decade.

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