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
Poverty has long weighed on Hugh Segal’s mind. For decades, the former senator has been a vocal champion for a guaranteed basic income to lift the country’s poorest out of the cycle of poverty. He credits his formative years, growing up in an immigrant family in Montreal’s working-class Plateau neighbourhood, for sowing the seeds of his advocacy.
“What bothers me the most about [poverty] is the amount of people whose lives are being wasted because they’re caught in a scramble of too many jobs, too little pay, insufficient resources to cover rent, food, transport, clothes,” he said, in an interview. “Their kids pay a huge price, and it produces all kinds of difficulties.”Read more
The Lindsay Advocate
For many years I have argued for the need for a well-planned basic income guarantee. For ought not the citizens of a country have a fair claim to a small dividend of the society we have all helped to create?
I have spoken with politicians of all political stripes on this matter over the past few years, including three high-profile federal Conservatives. These three Tories — all of whom were connected to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s governments — were at least open to trying basic income pilots.Read more
Hugh Segal sees no contradiction in being a conservative who’s long advocated a way to deal with poverty that some call a radical form of wealth distribution.
And as tech disrupts and the gig economy makes jobs more precarious, his idea has been talked up by noted people of many ideological stripes. Barack Obama, Milton Friedman, Elon Musk, cabinet secretaries for Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton, take your pick. All have endorsed, to some degree, a guaranteed basic income.Read more
What happens when we’re young shapes us for life.
That seems obvious, but it’s worth keeping in mind, particularly when we ponder the stubborn persistence of poverty in one of the world’s richest countries.
Hugh Segal — former senator, longtime professor, lifetime politico — was born in Montreal in 1950, an “edge-of-poverty working class kid,” as he refers to his upbringing in the book.
One frigid winter day in the 1950s, his oft-unemployed cab-driver dad gave young Hugh’s treasured wooden toy box to a neighbour living in the same triplex. The man didn’t have the money to fuel his furnace. Young Hugh resented this act of charity. He would later come to understand that there were people poorer than the Segals.
His family scraped by, navigating setbacks familiar to people living with less. The events seared themselves into his consciousness.
“A bailiff arriving to seize your dad’s car and empty the house of furniture is not something that fades into distant memory. It stays with you, like a dark spot at the edge of a slice of bread,” he reflects.Read more
With a federal election coming and all parties in the P.E.I. Legislature agreed, Canada's leading basic income advocate says this is the right time for the province to lobby Ottawa for money.
Former Canadian senator Hugh Segal said with 3.5 million Canadians living in poverty Ottawa has a responsibility to deal with any province that wants to reform the welfare system. Segal is familiar with the Island, having started his career in the office of David MacDonald, an MP for the western P.E.I. riding of Egmont.Read more
Every democracy’s internal legitimacy is tied to how fair the residents of that country feel their society is or tries to be. The fairness of laws, the fairness of government generally, the mix of fairness and opportunity writ large across the entire economy, fairness in the workplace and fairness of the tax system—these all matter.
That’s why successful economically prosperous economies have a special duty to keep working at fairness and reducing the pathologies that poverty imposes in ways that deny opportunity, expands the bureaucratic state and widens the gaps between haves and have nots. And we’re seeing just how important this duty is: Recent electoral outcomes in the U.S. and Europe underline that, while perceived economic fairness is not an exclusive determinant of political temperament, it certainly does count. When unfairness is broadly perceived to be pervasive, extreme and simplistic solutions and political voices championing them usually gain strength.Read more
Ontario's basic income pilot will eventually assist 4,000 low income residents in Hamilton, Brantford and Brant County, Thunder Bay and Lindsay, providing individuals with $16,989 annually from the province. The Agenda welcomes Hugh Segal, special advisor to the income pilot program, to discuss how to track its success and whether it will improve the lives of Ontarians.Read more
At least three federal Conservatives, all of whom served in former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s governments, are open to trying basic income guarantee pilots – and there could be more.
The dominant Progressive Conservative voice is Hugh Segal, a key driver of a basic income policy for decades and the key advisor on Ontario’s pilot project. He served as chief of staff to Mulroney and was a Canadian senator from 2005-2014. Segal was also chief of staff for former Ontario Premier, Bill Davis.
Another retired Progressive Conservative Senator, Michael Meighen, campaigned for a guaranteed annual income in his unsuccessful bids for a seat under Robert Stanfield. He told the Precarious Work Chronicle in 2015 that basic income is “very attractive on paper.”Read more
You could say Kingston is something of a leader in Canada when it comes to advocating for a basic income guarantee (BIG).
In December 2015, Kingston City Council became the first municipality in Canada to endorse the idea, and did so unanimously. One of Canada’s foremost advocates for BIG is former senator Hugh Segal, also from Kingston, and the city has an active and influential advocacy group, called Kingston Action Group for a Basic Income Guarantee (KAG4BIG).
“I think it’s safe to say that our Kingston group is the most active and organized of the local basic income groups in Ontario,” says Jamie Swift, a journalist and member of KAG4BIG.Read more