Providing a Basic Income to Canadians
Basic Income (BI), is a program where a regular, predictable income is unconditionally available to recipients who need it. BI provides an amount of money capable of supporting a stable, healthy life, and enables all who receive it to be full participants in the economy. There are many aspects to consider in adopting a Basic Income program including costs, implentation challenges, marketplace impact and social benefits.
On June 22, 2020 we sent this letter calling for the implementation of a Basic Income program to Prime Minister Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister Freeland and Minister of Finance Minister Morneau.
An excerpt to our letter to the Prime Minister:
"A guaranteed Basic Income would overcome deficiencies in our social safety net.... It is a mechanism that lifts people out of poverty and puts money in the marketplace. It has been shown to reduce health care, criminal justice costs, and increase rates of school completion... no Canadian should have to live in poverty or be thrust into poverty by a public health crisis or economic emergency. We know that the Government of Canada shares that belief. Accordingly, we strongly urge the Government of Canada to implement a guaranteed Basic Income so that all Canadians have the ability to achieve and maintain a good quality of life."
Please review the information below and then:
1) Contact your Member of Parliament.
To locate your MP please go here.
For a sample letter or for suggestions on talking points please go here.
2) Or, sign our petition here.
For Videos on Basic Income:
Our one hour webinar "Understanding Basic Income with John Rook" (Password to access: 0F%*#%37)
Two Minute video by Health Economist Dr. Evelyn Forget on the cost of BI
The Most Commonly Asked Questions:
An FAQ is available for download or read below:
What is it?
A guaranteed Basic Income is an alternative to the variety of social assistance programs that provide Canadians with a social “safety net.” A Basic Income system would provide a regular, predictable income, with minimal restrictions, to all who need it to support a dignified, healthy life.
Our Canadian economy has changed dramatically over the last several generations. Full-time, long-term jobs with benefits and pensions are no longer the norm. Many workers have had their jobs disappear with the introduction of technology and artificial intelligence. It is estimated that as much as 40% of our work force now work in a “gig” economy with no health benefits, paid vacations, pensions and are not eligible for programs such as employment Insurance. We need to adjust our social programs to reflect today’s economic realities.
How does Covid-19 impact this?
The Covid19 pandemic has shown us that existing federal programs such as Employment Insurance, the Canada Child Benefit, and the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors have their limitations. Provincially, it has shown that welfare and disability supports are insufficient, do not keep Canadians out of poverty and tend to stigmatize the recipient. In order to have a vibrant economy post-Covid-19, Canadians need to have money in their pockets to stimulate the economy. If we had a guaranteed Basic Income prior to the pandemic, we would not have needed the pandemic-specific federal income support programs.
What would a guaranteed Basic Income system cost?
A guaranteed Basic Income would cost our Federal Government about $23 billion a year or approximately 6% of Canada’s yearly budget of $350 billion. The Federal Government's projection of how much it will spend on direct support for Canadians during the COVID-19 crisis has risen to more than $152.7 billion as of May 28, 2020. This is before the Federal Government announced that it was going to extend the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
How would it work?
A guaranteed Basic Income could be administered through the Income Tax system. A Basic Income would top up those who fall below a certain income level much like the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors. A Basic Income would reduce administrative costs by folding many current programs into one. In addition, a Basic Income system has been shown to reduce health care and criminal justice costs.
Are there other benefits?
A guaranteed Basic Income has been studied in both Canada and around the world with strikingly positive outcomes. A Basic Income results in better population health and social outcomes. Data show that an increase in income to those who are currently in poverty allows them to make healthier food choices, brings down their stress levels and results in fewer medical issues and visits to hospitals. This lowers costs to the healthcare system.
A Basic Income is non-stigmatizing and encourages people to seek work. It gives people the ability to further their education and retrain for jobs in the new economy.
It gives support to the innovators and entrepreneurs who build companies and technologies that provide jobs in our new economic reality. It is a mechanism that both lifts people out of poverty and puts money in the marketplace.
The concept of BI is not completely foreign in Canada. For example, the Child Benefit Program is a tax-free monthly payment made by the Canada Revenue Agency to eligible families to assist those families in raising their children. Research has shown that every dollar spent by the government in this program results in two dollars of economic activity. This leads to total economic activity of $139 billion. Another example is the Guaranteed Income Supplement available to seniors to top up their Old Age Security pension if their income falls below a certain level.
Who Supports Basic Income:
Fifty Senators wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau in support of implementing basic income. The Senators letter can be viewed here.
Forty Bishops from the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau in support of basic income. The Bishops' letter can be viewed here.
One hundred and sixty-seven Health Professionals wrote a letter May 19, 2020 supporting implementation of Basic Income recognizing the effect of poverty on health.
The Basic Income Network has prepared a brief 4 page policy paper outlining three possible options.
Coalition Canada issued a report to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology Canadian Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. It can be viewed here.
Basic Income Calgary issued a report to the House of Commons Committee on Recovery Plans from COVID-19. Their report can be viewed here.