By Robin Boadway and Roderick Benns
For too many years Canada has danced around what is perhaps the central issue in social policy development. What are the most basic needs of Canadian citizens?
If one were to read a recent report from the Mowat Centre called Working Without a Net: Rethinking Canada’s Social Policy in the New Age of Work one wouldn’t think it was money.
The new report written by Sunil Johal and Jordann Thirgood attempts to make sense of of the real problems facing labour markets in a thorough way, particularly the increasingly precarious nature of work.Read more
British Medical Journal
For four years in the mid-1970s an unusual experiment took place in the small Canadian town of Dauphin. Statistically significant benefits for those who took part included fewer physician contacts related to mental health and fewer hospital admissions for “accident and injury.” Mental health diagnoses in Dauphin also fell. Once the experiment ended, these public health benefits evaporated.1 What was the treatment being tested? It was what has become known as a basic income—a regular, unconditional payment made to each and every citizen. This ground breaking experiment, an early randomised trial in the social policy sphere, ran out of money before full statistical analysisafter a loss of political interest.Read more
By Pierre Madden
Basic Income Earth Network
On November 12 and 13 I attended a congress of the Liberal Party of Quebec, which is currently in power in the province.
The Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity, François Blais, confirmed that a joint working group, with his colleague in Finance, will issue a preliminary report on Basic Income in the Spring. Our neighbouring province of Ontario (which, together with Quebec accounts for 62 percent of the population of Canada) was just released a working paper on a pilot project to begin in April 2017. Quebec does not seem to be leaning towards a pilot project.
In his talk, Minister Blais placed much emphasis on the principles underlying the development of the government’s project:
By Roderick Benns
Although he counts himself lucky not to have experienced poverty firsthand, the Green Party leader of Prince Edward Island, Peter Bevan-Baker, has many friends who haven’t been as fortunate.
When he rose in the P.E.I. Legislature last week and got all-party support for a Basic Income project to be set up on the island, he may have had them in mind when he introduced his motion. The Legislature agreed unanimously to have the province work with the federal government in the hope of running a Basic Income pilot on the island.
Bevan-Baker’s motion had its origins in the island’s May 2015 election. At an all-party leaders’ debate, it was the Green Party leader then, too, who brought up the issue, given it is prominently featured in all Green Party platforms across Canada. What he didn’t expect during that debate was to hear widespread openness toward the idea.Read more
The P.E.I. Legislature agreed unanimously Tuesday to have the province work with the federal government in hopes of setting up a basic-income pilot project on the Island.
The idea is to guarantee a minimum amount of money in government support each month to those living in poverty.
Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker put forward the motion, which was supported by all parties.
Bevan-Baker said a successful pilot project could reduce poverty, improve health and mental health, increase educational attainment, reduce crime and act as a response to increased automation and outsourcing.Read more
By Kate McFarland
Basic Income Earth Network
The Icelandic Pirate Party — which has proposed to launch an investigation into ways to implement an unconditional basic income in Iceland — has been granted the authority to form the country’s next government.
Iceland’s Pirate Party (Píratar) gained seven seats in Iceland’s parliament (Alþingi) in the October 2016 general election (which was held a year early, after the Prime Minister resigned in the wake of the Panama Papers leaks). This put the party in third place in parliamentary representation, behind the center-right Independence Party and the Left-Green Movement.Read more
By Madeline Ashby
OPINION -- Ottawa Citizen
Ontario is now poised to pilot a universal basic income project, putting it at the forefront of social innovation in the Western world. Canada is the first government in North America to try out the universal basic income idea. Switzerland resoundingly rejected a proposal to bring it onboard during a vote this summer.
What is universal basic income? It’s exactly what it sounds like: It’s granting people a minimum baseline of money on top of whatever they are able to earn. In Ontario’s case, this would amount to about $22,000 a year, which would put individuals making no other income at just above the poverty line. The poverty line for individual persons is at $18,421 a year. In 2009, half of Canadians were living on less than $25,400.Read more
By Brynna Leslie
Ottawa Community News
The City of Ottawa has tabled a number of measures in its budget to assist low-income residents. Among them, a half-price monthly transit pass is set to take effect in April 2017. The city has also committed to funds for organizations that offer social assistance.
But what if lifting Canadians out of poverty is more simple than the patchwork solutions frequently offered by municipal and provincial governments?
For nearly 40 years, a small, but politically and intellectually diverse group have been arguing for the implementation of a guaranteed annual income (GAI) to replace existing welfare and other assistance programs. Studies on GAI have proven to have positive financial impacts on health care, education and overall well being.Read more
By Roderick Benns
When he was a young man, just leaving high school, Jason Hartwick always pictured himself in front of a classroom. He saw himself as a high school teacher, helping to inspire young people and to guide them along their lives’ paths.
The thing is, Hartwick didn’t have anyone to guide him.
He grew up in poverty, bounced around from town to town across a wide swath of southern Ontario, dependent on where his single mom could find work and affordable housing.
From Bowmanville, where they lived on Mother's allowance payments, to Grasshill, Pefferlaw, Sutton, Sundridge, Burk's Falls, South River, Beaverton, Peterborough and Argyle, Hartwick figured out they had moved 32 times before he turned 21.
Now 38 and living in Peterborough, he says he knows that “poverty was definitely a barrier” when he was growing up with his six siblings. When he thinks about his early dream of being a high school teacher, Hartwick remembers how he felt as reality set in.Read more
By Roderick Benns
Chris Ballard, the Minister of Housing and Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy for Ontario, says he is hopeful the province’s Basic Income pilot will “put to rest” any doubts people have about how positive a minimum income strategy could be.
Ballard, who is overseeing the Basic Income pilot project initiated by Canada’s largest province, says some of the key things they want to look at from studying the pilot will be Basic Income’s impact on community health, individuals’ health, education, general quality of life, and how the policy might stimulate “attachment to the labour force.”Read more