A guaranteed minimum income for Canada?


in Canada, Economics, Politics

Back in 2012, then-Conservative senator Hugh Segal gave an impressive lecture on achieving large-scale poverty reduction in Canada, including through the establishment of a guaranteed minimum income.

Recently, he spoke with The Georgia Strait about how the topic is unlikely to come up during this election.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

. September 8, 2015 at 3:34 pm
. September 8, 2015 at 3:35 pm
Milan September 21, 2015 at 12:48 am

A guaranteed minimum income is a really appealing idea. It could greatly simplify the overall system of social assistance, help control the bottom end of income inequality, and encourage people to use their time productively rather than work low-value jobs to provide minimal support to themselves.

It would certainly transform the grad student experience in Canada, not least by giving students a lot more time to focus on tasks which can lead to good jobs (like publishing papers) rather than doing menial work to pay their bills.

. December 29, 2015 at 3:11 pm
. November 11, 2016 at 6:22 pm

Provincial adviser proposes basic income of least $1,320

Hugh Segal, Ontario’s special adviser on basic income, wants province to test the merits of boosting incomes for the working poor and replacing social assistance with no-strings attached payments.

. January 14, 2017 at 2:13 am

Group seeks views on basic income pilot project

KINGSTON – A provincial group gathering ideas for a basic income pilot project is to be in Kingston Monday evening.

MPP Han Dong, Parliamentary assistant to Chris Ballard, minister of housing and minister responsible for the poverty reduction strategy, is to be in the city to hear local opinion about how a basic income pilot project would work.

The consultation process began in November and is to wrap up this month.

A basic income supplement is being considered as a way to help lift people out of poverty but figuring out how such a pilot project would be delivered, and who would receive it, is part of the consultation process.

“That’s one of the discussions — is where it should be, what the design should be,” said Kingston and the Islands MPP Sophie Kiwala. “We have to test it, what is the test going to be like? What is the geographic area, what is the composition of the individuals who would take part?

. January 14, 2017 at 2:15 am

U of T experts on what Canada can learn from Finland’s experiment with universal basic income

Under the Finnish program, which started this week, 2,000 people will receive €560 ($780) per month – no strings attached – to replace their current social benefits. They would keep that income even after they find work.

One of the things I proposed in our discussion paper is that we not do precisely what Finland is doing for two reasons: a) the Finns are doing it and they’re going to share their data with everybody, and b) they’re doing an amount where everybody in the pilot project gets the same amount of money.

That’s more in the context of a universal grant where everybody gets money and the tax system gets it back from the people who are already well off. What we’re recommending here is a top up so that people who live beneath the provincial poverty line (the Low Income Measure) they would be automatically topped up to a maximum of $1,300 a month. The present amount for a single mother on Ontario Works is about $600 a month.

. May 2, 2017 at 6:32 pm
. May 31, 2017 at 6:27 pm

Basic Income Experiment A Part Of NDP-Green Deal To Govern B.C.

It’s part of a broader strategy “to move all British Columbians toward a liveable income,” a Green Party spokeswoman told HuffPost Canada on Wednesday.

The party platform states that implementation “will begin by carrying out a pilot project, drawing on experience from Manitoba in the 1970s and current pilot projects being implemented in Ontario.”

Dauphin, Man. was the site of an experiment with basic income in the 1970s. The results were buried for decades until academic Evelyn Forget unearthed them in recent research, and found it had nearly eliminated poverty in the community.

This spring, Ontario announced in its budget that three communities — Hamilton, Lindsay and Thunder Bay — will be the sites of basic income experiments over the next several years.

Under Ontario’s plan, single people will receive nearly $17,000 annually, less 50 per cent of what they earn.

Some 4,000 people in the three communities will be selected to participate in the experiment.

. June 30, 2017 at 1:53 pm

Finland tests a new form of welfare

An experiment on the effect of offering the unemployed an unconditional basic income

. October 3, 2017 at 11:52 pm

The Basic Income Experiment

The basic income is a hot topic of social policy. It’s a steady payout to citizens. Liberals argue it provides support to struggling citizens with dignity and freedom. Libertarians like that it can be dispensed without an expensive, and controlling, bureaucracy. The rest argue that it’s a giveaway that will inspire laziness.

In Finland, unemployment is 8.8 percent, and most of the time, citizens can’t collect unemployment if they’re making additional money, discouraging recipients from finding jobs. So the Finnish government has set up something unusual: a live experiment. A test to help settle the debate, or figure if it’s even worth having. A test group of 2,000 unemployed Finns receive 560 euros each month from the government. No strings attached. For unemployed researcher Sanna Leskinen, that meant being able to apply for part time jobs and plan for the future. Avery Trufelman went to Finland to see how the experiment was working.

. February 26, 2018 at 12:19 pm

Margie Goold, who suffers debilitating arthritis, bought a new walker.

Lance Dingman, who lost his right leg to a chronic bone disease, is no longer running out of groceries by the middle of the month.

Wendy Moore, who has been homeless for almost two years, is looking for an apartment.

The three Hamilton residents are part of the first wave of participants in Ontario’s experiment with basic income, a monthly, no-strings-attached payment of up to $1,400 for people living in poverty. Those with disabilities receive an additional $500 a month.


. August 4, 2018 at 1:49 am

Ford government ditched basic income pilot project before any data landed, researcher says

$50M-a-year project was to provide money to 4,000 low-income Ontarians for 3 years

. May 8, 2020 at 2:40 pm

Finnish basic income pilot improved wellbeing, study finds

First major study of scheme comes as economic toll of coronavirus prompts fresh interest in idea

. August 20, 2020 at 3:12 pm
. September 16, 2020 at 2:26 pm

Let’s get something straight: Despite what you may have seen in the news, the Liberal Party of Canada is not going to implement a universal basic income (UBI), or a guaranteed annual income, or a guaranteed basic income, or a “Canadian basic income,” as the backers of a resolution going before the party’s convention in November are calling it. Liberals are reportedly discussing it in this week’s cabinet retreat in Ottawa. But they’re not going to announce it in the throne speech; they’re not going to roll it out later in their second term; and they’re not going to do it even if they get re-elected to a third term on an explicit promise to do it. If you are indulging any thoughts to the contrary, you need to smarten up.

The reasons this government will not implement anything like UBI are manifold and blindingly obvious, starting with the cost. The purest form of basic income sends the same amount of money to every citizen, regardless of means. Send $1,000 a month to every adult Canadian for a year — a very basic income indeed — and you’ve just spent $364 billion. That’s more than the projected COVID-19 deficit — year after year after year. Down that road lies either financial ruin for the country or a whopping great tax hike, and thereby political ruin for the government.


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