By Roderick Benns
Four panelists met in the southwestern Ontario city of Guelph Wednesday night to debate the merits of a basic income guarantee. When the dust settled, there may have been more common ground than first imagined.
The central question of the evening was ‘Can a Basic Income Guarantee Eliminate Poverty?’ Sheila Regehr (pictured left, top) chair of the Basic Income Canada Network, kicked off the evening with a 20-minute introduction about basic income. She was then in conversation with Peter Clutterbuck (left, bottom), from the Social Planning Network of Ontario, Noah Zon, (right, top) Director of Policy and Research, Maytree, and Dr. Nicola Mercer, (right, bottom) Medical Officer of Health, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.Read more
By Roderick Benns
A basic income guarantee is not a magic bullet for all forms of economic deprivation in our society, according to a York University professor – but it’s absolutely necessary for the most severe instances of poverty.
Dr. Dennis Raphael, a professor of Health Policy and Management at York University in Toronto, says the people in poverty within the bottom 10-15 percent “suffer profoundly.”
“A basic income is a chance to remove the most egregious forms of poverty,” he says.Read more
By Roderick Benns
Basic Income Canada Network Chair Sheila Regehr will tackle some of the common challenges she hears about basic income policy at an event in Guelph this Wednesday, Sept. 28th.
Regehr is the keynote speaker for an evening hosted by the Guelph Community Health Centre, the Guelph and Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination, and CFUW Guelph.
The key theme of the evening is ‘Can a Basic Income Guarantee Eliminate Poverty?’ After Regehr speaks, she will then be in conversation with Peter Clutterbuck, from the Social Planning Network of Ontario, Noah Zon, Director of Policy and Research, Maytree, and Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.Read more
By Roderick Benns
The ninth annual Basic Income Week surpassed all expectations in Canada with a plethora of basic income-related activities of note. This reflects only a limited cross-section of activities:
Ontario Basic Income Pilot
Nowhere is the discussion about basic income more developed than in Ontario where the government is poised to release the parameters of a basic income pilot this fall. No one knows yet where the pilot will be set up, or in how many locations, nor the number of people this will affect. Retired Conservative Senator Hugh Segal acted as special adviser for the project and has already reported back to the Province on his recommendations.
Segal has long been an advocate for a basic income guarantee and has spent 40 years of his professional life arguing for the policy as a way to mitigate poverty.Read more
By John Rondina
If we hadn’t innovated in the past with respect to our social policy, we would have no Canada Pension Plan. We would have no Employment Insurance. We would have no Guaranteed Income Supplement. These safety nets of our present were unaffordable in our past according to their critics at the time.
Often, what we say is unaffordable is because of a current favouritism to one or multiple sectors of the economy. When we revaluate distribution of income, what seemed impossible or unaffordable begins to look like one giant step forward for humankind.Read more
By John Rondina
Some critics of basic income argue that people will become lazy should we implement basic income in Ontario or Canada. Is there any logic to such thinking?
Is it logical to use deprivation to keep people in jobs that don’t pay? Do we really expect a growing precariat to believe in society if societal attitudes are to carry a big stick when it comes to poverty? Does the mother, the student, the recently unemployed, the person now working a low wage believe in social justice? What happens when people stop trusting in governments, the stock market and other institutions?
We used to use a whip to drive our horses and our buggies forward. Is that how we want to treat our fellow human beings? By using a big stick?Read more
UK Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn will use a speech in London on Thursday to announce that Labour will research the radical policy of universal basic income, which would replace means-tested benefits with a flat-rate payment.
Some on the left see the idea, which would guarantee every citizen a taxpayer-funded income, as the best way to protect low-paid workers against the insecurity of today’s labour market.
Corbyn will say: “Technological changes and the so-called ‘gig economy’ can mean increased insecurity and uncertainty across our society. It is one of the reasons I am looking at policies that can help provide more security for working households.
“One such possible answer may be the often-discussed suggestion of a universal basic income.”Read more
Roderick Benns recently interviewed Dr. Gary Bloch about basic income. Bloch is a family physician with St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, and co-Chair of the Ontario College of Family Physicians’ Committee on Poverty and Health. His clinical, educational, program development, and research interests focus on the intersection between poverty and health, and specifically on what primary care providers can do to address poverty as a health issue.
Benns: We’re set to introduce a pilot on basic income here in Ontario. Are you optimistic this multi-year project will lead to a full-fledged model for the province and a measurable increase in people’s health?
Bloch: I am cautiously optimistic. I think a pilot like this is a big investment, and wouldn’t be undertaken if there weren’t at least some intent to follow up on the findings longer term.Read more
By Kate McFarland
The Northern Policy Institute of Ontario has organized a conference to explore the idea of a basic income guarantee. The conference will take place in Sudbury from October 5-6.
The BIG Conference defines a “basic income guarantee” (BIG) as “a payment to eligible families or individuals that ensures a minimum level of income” — or what is sometimes referred to as a “guaranteed minimum income” (GMI) or “guaranteed annual income” (GAI). The government of Ontario has been moving forward to test such a policy, with a trial set to begin by April 2017. No location has yet been announced for the trial.Read more
By Tara Kainer
After attending three out of the four sessions offered on basic income at the World Social Forum in Montreal last month, I found the mood to be optimistic and forward looking.
The sessions were well-attended and more than one person stated that while three to five years ago no one seemed to know about basic income, it was now gaining momentum exponentially. They were heartened to find so many like-minded people discussing basic income in one room.Read more