Roderick Benns, publisher of Leaders and Legacies, recently interviewed Tara Kainer, a long-time anti-poverty advocate, about basic income guarantee policy.
Tara Kainer grew up talking about social justice issues around the dinner table. In the 1950s, when she was a small child, her family lived in Tennessee where segregation was still in place and poverty, especially in the rural areas, was extreme.
Because her mother worked in the emergency department of a local hospital she often talked about the people who were turned away from medical services because they couldn’t pay. After leaving Tennessee they lived in Saskatchewan where the CCF government brought in Medicare before it was adopted by the federal government in 1966. Her parents were fervent supporters.Read more
Roderick Benns from Leaders and Legacies recently interviewed Victor Lau, the leader of the Green Party of Saskatchewan, about basic income. Lau has been the leader of the Green Party since 2011. Saskatchewan goes to the polls April 4, 2016.
Benns: Do you run candidates in all ridings?
Lau: Yes! The Green Party of Saskatchewan ran our first full slate of 58 candidates in the previous general election in 2011. For 2016, our party finished nominating a full slate of 61 candidates (the provincial government added three more seats) by the summer of 2014. We are currently the only party in Saskatchewan to have finished nominating their entire slate of candidates. Even the Saskatchewan Party government has two more seats to go and the NDP has just over half of theirs done.
Benns: Are there any signs of electoral success on the horizon for any of your candidates?
Lau: The Green Party of Saskatchewan believes strongly that by being ready with a full slate of 61 candidates and an excellent platform for 2016 that our central messaging should carry us to victory in three to four seats or potentially even propel us into forming government (only 31 seats are needed to do so.)Read more
By Roderick Benns
Publisher of Leaders and Legacies, a social purpose news site
Michael Clague grew up as a middle class boy in Vancouver, B.C. in the 1940s. He was fortunate, he says, because he never had to experience poverty firsthand. Given that his father was a school principal in an east Vancouver school, though, he did encounter a number of people who came from families with low incomes.
But it wasn’t until many years later, when he was appointed to the Special Senate Committee on Poverty, that Clague would realize the weight of poverty that existed for many. Chaired by Senator David Croll in 1968, the final report says it well:Read more
By Roderick Benns
Publisher of Leaders and Legacies, a social purpose news site.
All three territorial mayors in Canada, representing the capital cities of the vast Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, say it’s time to look at basic income policy to address growing inequality.
The mayors’ three respective territories where they hail from cover about 40 percent of the geographic size of Canada. Echoing many of their southern big city counterparts, the mayors are calling for pilot projects to be set up to measure the effectiveness of a basic income guarantee.Read more
By Roderick Benns
Publisher of Leaders and Legacies, a social purpose news site.
The mayor of Whitehorse, Yukon, the recently re-elected Dan Curtis, says the challenges of northern living make investigating a basic income guarantee a viable idea.
Curtis says he “would love to see everyone in the middle class, but it’s challenging when there is so much work in the (lower paying) service industry,” even with people often working two or more jobs to make ends meet.
Curtis is the latest Canadian mayor to be interviewed by Leaders and Legacies, in order to gauge municipal level support for a basic income guarantee policy. A common definition of a basic income guarantee ensures everyone an income sufficient to meet basic needs and live with dignity, regardless of work status. It involves a regular, reliable distribution of money from government to people to help ensure total income sufficient to meet common, basic needs.Read more
Welcome to our new website, launched at the end of August 2015! We hope you’ll check it out and continue to visit for knowledge, news and developments. Sign up for email notices, too, to get periodic highlights. There is indeed much that’s developing. Local and regional action is growing. Support is coming from a wide spectrum; university students to seniors, public health agencies and precarious workers to leading economists, and many more. With PEI’s premier supporting a basic income guarantee, Calgary and Edmonton mayors declaring leadership on the issue at municipal level, and a federal election on the horizon, the political landscape is ripe with potential.
Here's how to show your support right now for the basic income idea!
The higher the count, the stronger the message, so spread the word to everyone you know who wants a Canada where everyone is guaranteed enough income to meet basic needs and live with dignity. By supporting the idea, you pave the way for the practical reality of designing an effective working model of basic income for Canada. You will help put it on the radar of politicians, fellow Canadians and the media, place it higher on government agendas, and encourage informed conversation and democratic deliberation that leads to good public policy.
If you have questions about the basic income idea, our website’s resources and connections are plentiful and offer a variety of perspectives. Here are a few of many reasons why the conversation is taking a whole new turn in Canada now.
- Canada has more experience with basic income than many realize. We’ve had forms of basic income guarantee (or what used to be called guaranteed annual income) for seniors and families with children for many years; they work and we can learn from them. We ran four-year long pilots in the 1970s that included all ages, which we know produced individual and community-wide health and economic benefits.
- Income security and public services are more effective when they work together. Canada’s health care system, for example, is more effective and less expensive if people can afford food, shelter, basic medicine and other means to live a healthy life and fight off illness. Education resources go farther if students are not too hungry or stressed to concentrate on schoolwork. Income security, childcare and labour laws help parents balance their family’s material and care needs.
- We have options. Some approaches to the basic income idea involve overhauling or abolishing a great many programs into a single basic income, a degree of change that causes some people great concern. Canada is fortunate to have options that include simplifying and streamlining while building on models that are already working, filling in gaps and improving as we go.
- Hard-nosed reality. There is widespread recognition, even by traditionally conservative economic organizations and some members of wealthy elites, that we have reached dangerous levels of inequality in wealth, income, control over time and health. Along this path lies potential for great unrest, which is not good for economies overall, and a concern about where profits will come from if an ever larger share of customers can’t afford what’s being produced.
- The world of work. The notion that people won’t work if they have a basic income is a recurring theme but the weight of evidence indicates that’s not what happens and it’s not what we need to worry about. Without a basic income, the far more serious work challenges we face will get worse. Many people already work too hard at jobs that pay too little. Others cannot even find steady, decent jobs or are overwhelmed by the demands of unpaid work looking after their families. Precarious employment is becoming the new norm and the need for human labour is shrinking rapidly due to automation. A basic income is not the answer to all these issues but it is a logical foundation for a modern, peaceful democracy like Canada.
Thank you to everyone who is making our new website possible and to everyone who in different ways is working to define the basic income guarantee we want in Canada.
Basic Income Canada Network
Roderick Benns, publisher of Leaders and Legacies, recently interviewed Julia Endicott about her advocacy for a basic income guarantee. Endicott is a first year Bachelor of Education student at Queen’s University. She also holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Waterloo and a Masters of Chemistry from the University of Toronto.
Benns: From what perspective do you approach the basic income issue? And, how did you come to be involved?
Endicott: I have always been interested in social justice and I believe wealth inequality and poverty are issues that can be addressed if people can be inspired act. I learned about the Kingston Action Group for a Basic Income Guarantee when Toni Pickard did a guest lecture in a class I am taking as part of my Bachelor of Education at Queen’s University. I had heard of the idea before but Toni’s description of the group and the type of activism they were doing made me excited to get involved with them.Read more
By Scott Santens
I think we should avoid letting our ideologies inform our opinions on matters of social and economic policy. What matters is scientifically observed evidence. I support the idea of providing everyone with an unconditional basic income not because I just think it’s the right thing to do, and the best way to make ongoing technological unemployment work for us instead of against us, but because such an overwhelming amount of human behavioral evidence points in the direction of basic income.
In their opinion pieces for the week-long series about universal basic income published in September by The Washington Post, I was struck by how both Oren Cass and Jonathan Coppage expressed a distinct lack of knowledge of the evidence we have available to inform our opinions on giving people money without strings attached, by citing none of it. Science involves testing our hypotheses. They both expressed the shared hypothesis that giving people additional income in the form of a basic income would somehow reduce social cohesion, and that it is growing social inequality that’s leading to economic problems and not the other way around. We can test such a hypothesis by simply looking at what actually happens when people are provided unconditional cash, and comparing it to a control group of those who aren’t.Read more
Roderick Benns interviewed Jurgen De Wispelaere earlier this year, a fellow at the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University, Montreal, about a basic income guarantee. De Wispelaere is a founding editor of the journal Basic Income Studies. He is currently in Finland helping this country to set up basic income pilot projects.
Benns: In what way can Canada draw from Nordic nations’ experiences when it comes to inequality? Out of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, what nation is on the right track these days when it comes to helpful social policy?
De Wispelaere: I am not an expert on Scandinavian social democratic policy regimes, but a few small points in response. The Nordic countries are very different from Canada and we have to be careful about learning lessons from other countries, or rather about thinking that we can apply models across very easily.
Roderick Benns recently interviewed Luc Gosselin (left), a member of Basic Income Earth Network, and a member of France’s Mouvement français pour le revenu de base, about a basic income guarantee.
Benns: How did you come to be involved in this issue?
Gosselin: It’s the last stage in a mental voyage that started with an aphorism I coined when a teenager: Il n’y a pas de salaire pour l’ennui, which translates as: No salary is high enough to pay for boredom.
A few years later, in one of Buckminster Fuller’s book, I came across this:Read more