Nova Scotia advocates say now is the time for a universal basic income

Toronto Star

Advocates are calling on the provincial and federal governments to provide a basic personal income — something they say could be a major step toward eradicating poverty.

Basic Income Guarantee Nova Scotia (BIG-NS) made its case at Province House Wednesday, hosted by NDP MLA Lisa Roberts. The group asked government to study the feasibility of paying a guaranteed basic income to anyone living below the poverty line.

One member of BIG-NS said that even though basic income programs can be costly, they could be paid for with existing government funds by simply reallocating the budget.

“The money is there,” said Pierre Stevens, who is a BIG-NS member and retired Dalhousie University math professor.

BIG-NS chair Elizabeth Kay-Raining Bird told reporters a feasibility study for a provincial guaranteed basic income could cost about $50,000. She deferred to Stevens to say more about how the actual program could be realized.

“If the provincial and federal government would work together,” said Stevens, “they could create a basic income at the poverty level that wouldn’t cost them anything from the budgets as they have them right now. So it is extremely feasible, it’s just a question: do they want to do it? Or do they want to keep people in poverty?”