Evelyn Forget was a psychology student in Toronto in 1974 when she first heard about a ground-breaking social experiment that had just begun in the rural Canadian community of Dauphin, Manitoba.
“I found myself in an economics class which I wasn’t looking forward to,” she remembers. “But in the second week, the professor came in, and spoke about this wonderful study which was going to revolutionise the way we delivered social programmes in Canada. To me, it was a fascinating concept, because until then I’d never really realised you could use economics in any kind of positive way.”
The experiment was called ‘Mincome’, and it had been designed by a group of economists who wanted to do something to address rural poverty. Once it was implemented in the area, it had real results: over the four years that the program ended up running in the 1970s, an average family in Dauphin was guaranteed an annual income of 16,000 Canadian dollars ($11,700, £9,400).Read more
Across the Western world, there is a rising epidemic of depression and anxiety—one that disfigured my life for over a decade. For years now, the United Nations has been trying to warn us that these problems are continuing to spike up in part because we have, as a culture, been responding in the wrong way. In its official statement for World Health Day last year, the UN explained that we need move from “focusing on ‘chemical imbalances’ to focusing on ‘power imbalances.’” At first glance, this sounds puzzling. What could they mean?Read more
By Eric Walberg
Founded in 1986, the Basic Income European Network (BIEN) is the international NGO that promotes BIG around the world. It held its last conference "Re-democratizing the Economy" at McGill's Faculty of Law in 2014.
A North American congress was held in Winnipeg in May 2016 and its 16th congress in July in Seoul, South Korea. Its credo is that some sort of economic right based upon citizenship rather than upon one's relationship to the production process or one's family status is called for as part of the just solution to social problems in advanced societies.Read more
By Eric Walberg
About 10% of Canadians live in poverty. That figure is even higher in major cities, such as Toronto where the number of children living below the line is nearly 25%. In India, 22% of the people live in poverty. A "guaranteed annual income" (GAI) could wipe out this poverty at a stroke.
GAI (also BIG -- basic income guarantee) has been quietly mooted by both left and right since the 1960s. Economist Milton Friedman called it (approvingly) "helicopter money". What could be easier to administer, to end the most obvious source of social injustice, and which is welcomed even by most Canadians?Read more
Winnipeg Free Press -- Editorial
When Expo 67 opened in Montreal in April 1967, it featured a futuristic geodesic dome. Star Trek was wowing audiences with technologies such as voice-recognition and machine-supported medical diagnostic systems. Children’s television cartoon the Jetsons imagined a future of robots and flying vehicles. In the era of the space age, the future looked promising, with the dream of increasing leisure time as robots took over the most mundane jobs and services.Read more
By Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press
In the mid- to late 1970s, every single person in one rural Manitoba city received $1,255 a year — roughly $7,500 in today’s dollars.
The amount increased depending on the number of people living in each household, maxing out at $3,969, or nearly $23,500 in 2016 currency, for a family of five or more.
The people in the Dauphin, Man., experiment didn’t have to work to receive this stipend. If they did, their benefit dropped 50 cents for every dollar they received.
The residents of Dauphin just had to exist to receive their full guaranteed annual income.Read more
By Roderick Benns
Publisher of Leaders and Legacies, a social purpose news site
The best story Ron Hikel ever heard about the famous ‘Mincome’ experiment from the 1970s has to do with a simple pick-up truck.
Mincome stands for minimum income – something that was given to about a third of the people who lived in Dauphin, Manitoba. It was a bold experiment started by the federal Liberal government to see what people would do with free money from the state.
Ron Hikel was the executive director of the Mincome project, a program that ran from from 1974 through 1978. When a Dutch TV crew showed up at his doorstep last year in Toronto to talk to him about Mincome, they then went on to Dauphin where the experiment had made everyone in the town eligible to apply for monthly income supplementation, based on earned income and family size.Read more