A newly released report co-authored by a professor at the University of Manitoba is calling on the federal government to guarantee a basic income for Canadians to help the economy recover from COVID-19.
The report recommends the government create a basic income guarantee of $17,000-$19,000, an amount just above the poverty line.
"We are talking about a targeted program," said Evelyn Forget, a community health sciences professor at U of M and coauthor of the report. "That means that somebody with no income would receive the full amount of the benefit. As their income increases, if they were working and earning some money, their benefit would be reduced by the amount they earned."Read more
By Evelyn Forget
A basic income—a regular, unconditional payment distributed by the government—is an old idea. Thomas More wrote about it during the Renaissance in Utopia, and Thomas Paine preached its merits when the United States was in its infancy. But the idea never gained mainstream acceptance.
Although social scientists had long been testing the effects of a basic income with pilot projects around the world, it was easy to imagine that the governments permitting these experiments hoped that public enthusiasm might die out by the time the results were compiled.
After the 2008 financial crisis, the International Labor Organization, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Health Organization, and, especially, the World Bank showed some interest in a basic income. Never, however, did the idea make the leap from white papers to real-world policy.Read more
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
University of Manitoba News
A UM economist says that government assistance for people whose livelihood has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic shows that it may be time for universal basic income.
Dr. Evelyn Forget, who has long studied basic income as a means of reducing poverty, says that the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), introduced by the Canadian government last month, proves that existing income security programs such as Employment Insurance (EI) are inadequate.
Dr. Forget is in community health sciences at UM and academic director of the Manitoba Research Data Centre. She is an adjunct scientist with the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy and a research associate with Ongomiizwin – Research in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.Read more
Economic havoc wreaked by the coronavirus has led some to ask whether it’s time for a basic income.
In Canada alone, more than a million people have lost their jobs since March, with millions applying for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which gives $2,000 every month for up to four months to those who’ve lost income due to COVID-19.
As the pandemic’s cost to society became clear last month, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called for “immediate direct help” in the form of a universal basic income.Read more
Evelyn Forget has quite literally written the book on basic income for Canadians. It’s called, you guessed it, Basic Income for Canadians.
As a health economist at the University of Manitoba, Forget re-discovered the Manitoba Mincome experiment of the 1970s, and undertook to analyze some 1800 cubic feet of data from the decades-old experiment. She found evidence of improved health and high school completion, and even an overall improved sense of community in the town of Dauphin, the one and only saturation site for the Mincome experiment.
In advance of her talk at this year’s Basic Income NS conference on Saturday at the Central Library, I called up Forget to ask her about the basics of basic income.Read more
Winnipeg Free Press
It’s no surprise that someone who had a bumpy start in life like Winnipeg-based author Evelyn Forget would be concerned with health, happiness and security.
Forget’s father died when she was 12, and she and her two younger siblings were raised by her mother, first on Mother’s Allowance and then on low-skilled and low-waged jobs.Read more
In Canadian policy circles, basic income has come to mean a stipend paid to families or individuals without the many conditions and rules that govern existing income assistance programs.
The amount received is gradually reduced as income from other sources increases.
However, basic income is not just about welfare reform.
A basic income is most valuable to people in the middle class and those hoping to join them. Here's why a Canadian basic income is inevitable.
Consider Canadians who already benefit from some forms of basic income —families with children under 18 and people aged 65 and above.Read more
Once in a while a mainstream public policy book comes along that has the potential to be a game changer of information, analysis, and sound reasoning. Even rarer is when that same book can strike a warm and inviting tone, beckoning the reader into what feels like a private discussion.
Basic Income for Canadians: The Key to a Healthier, Happier, More Secure Life for All (published by Lorimer) should not be private, though – it should be required reading for every federal and provincial bureaucrat, every municipal politician, and every business owner. It should be on the must-read list for every Canadian who has even the slightest interest in where our nation is headed, and where it could be.Read more
Ontario's short-lived experiment may have met its end, but the author of a new book on basic income says it hasn't shaken her confidence that the program will one day catch on, on a larger scale.
Evelyn Forget, an economist at the University of Manitoba, said the cancellation of basic income in Ontario was a disappointment that sparked outrage among researchers around the world. But it may also have a silver lining.
"I think the cancellation itself probably introduced the idea of basic income to more people than knew about it before it began," she said.Read more