by Robin Boadway, Katherine Cuff and Kourtney Koebel
The idea of a basic income – or a guaranteed minimum income for all adult Canadians regardless of employment status -- has evolved from a niche interest among policy geeks to a topic of mainstream political discourse.
Once advocated as a means of restructuring income supports and relieving income security more generally, a recent wave of public interest is being sparked by people like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, who see it as the basis of a new social contract in the event that artificial intelligence and automation lead to mass unemployment.
Many people see the merits of a basic income, yet some, believing a basic income is too expensive, remain skeptical. In the case of a universal, unconditional income that gives every Canadian $20,000, they should be.Read more
Roderick Benns recently interviewed Robin Boadway, Emeritus Professor of Economics at Queen’s University. In a paper written with Katherine McCuff, a Professor from the Department of Economics at McMaster University, and Kourtney Koebel, an MA candidate in Political Science at the University of Toronto, they argue a basic income is affordable for all Canadians.
Benns: One of the greatest concerns people have with a basic income guarantee is that it will simply cost too much to implement. You’ve shown in your recent paper that a basic income policy could indeed be afforded. Broadly, how can Canada make this happen?Read more
By Robin Boadway and Roderick Benns
For too many years Canada has danced around what is perhaps the central issue in social policy development. What are the most basic needs of Canadian citizens?
If one were to read a recent report from the Mowat Centre called Working Without a Net: Rethinking Canada’s Social Policy in the New Age of Work one wouldn’t think it was money.
The new report written by Sunil Johal and Jordann Thirgood attempts to make sense of of the real problems facing labour markets in a thorough way, particularly the increasingly precarious nature of work.Read more
By Robin Boadway and Roderick Benns
As basic income policy gets more press as a way to drastically reduce poverty, inevitably there will be those who seek to preserve the status quo approach.
This has served us inadequately for many years and yet there are some believers who remain. These same believers often seek to create false policy choices, as Armine Yalnizyan has done in her recent offering to the Star, ‘Basic income? How about basic services?’Read more
By Robin Boadway, Alan Gummo, and Roderick Benns
Andrew Coyne gets many things right about a basic income guarantee, writing this analysis for the National Post recently.
He gets that a basic income would not replace social insurance programs like Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plan. He also gets, albeit with undue pessimism, that the provinces need to be involved. He acknowledges that the level of the guaranteed annual income program proposed by the Macdonald Royal Commission was inadequate, and he implicitly accepts that a basic income of reasonable scope could be afforded by combining the appropriate basic benefit amount with a suitable rate of claw-back as incomes rise. He even observes that a basic income need not deter work incentives; on the contrary, it will be enhanced compared with existing welfare schemes.Read more
By Roderick Benns
The federal Liberals have voted to shake-up Canada’s social policy by moving toward a “minimum guaranteed income” model.
At the party’s national convention just held in Winnipeg, the resolution states the party will, in consultation with the provinces, “develop a poverty reduction strategy aimed at providing a minimum guaranteed income.”
Reaction from the Basic Income Canada Network (BICN) was swift.Read more
By Robin Boadway
The pursuit of a basic income guarantee (BIG) is gathering momentum, but much of the emphasis has been on setting up pilot projects.
This is fair enough given that implementation of a full-fledged BIG is a major undertaking. But, approaching BIG using pilot projects alone would be unfortunate. Pilots take time, and by focusing on the response of project participants they are unlikely to give a comprehensive account of BIG, which of necessity would involve significant reform of existing tax-transfer systems. A two-track approach could move incrementally in the direction of BIG. It would involve exploiting refundable tax credits in new and innovative directions.Read more
Roderick Benns, publisher of Leaders and Legacies, recently interviewed Robin Boadway, a retired economics professor. Boadway studied economics at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. He has his doctorate in economics from Queen’s University in Kingston.
Benns: How did you come to be involved in this issue?
Boadway: I spent my academic career as a public finance economist studying optimal policies for achieving a just and fair society, particularly with regard to those most in need. Naturally, guaranteed annual income is one important element of redistributive policies. I was especially influenced by economists like Anthony Atkinson and Amartya Sen for whom basic income was both fair and conducive to equality of opportunity. The views of philosopher John Rawls were also influential, particularly the idea that societal outcomes owe much to luck at birth, and those of us who are luckier than others owe it to the less fortunate to share in our luck. Having spent most of my life teaching and studying the importance of a basic income guarantee, the BIG group in Kingston offered an irresistible opportunity to have some practical effect.Read more