Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson says the “evidence is overwhelming” for providing a basic income guarantee for Canadians – and he thinks his city and Calgary are great places to try out pilot projects.
On the heels of a national poverty conference in Ottawa, in which Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi voiced his support for a basic income guarantee, Edmonton’s Iveson says not only is he in favour of the policy, he thinks Alberta’s two largest cities should work with the Province to figure out how to make it happen.
“We (Edmonton and Calgary) may be in a position to pilot some different solutions. As partners, we may be able to help the Province implement” a basic income guarantee pilot.
The policy is also sometimes known as a guaranteed annual income or negative income tax.
Last week, Leaders and Legacies learned through Nenshi’s communications adviser, Daorcey Le Bray, that Calgary’s mayor was intent on building support for a basic income guarantee through fellow mayors across Canada. Iveson’s support – and his suggestion of pilot projects with the Province – may gel nicely with Nenshi’s vision.
“This is the advantage of him (Nenshi) and me working together in Alberta. We already have ongoing discussions with the Province,” says Iveson.
The task force on poverty that Iveson initiated is still considering the policies of basic income and a living wage, which are not incompatible concepts, the mayor notes. The task force will report back with their recommendations on a number of policy fronts this fall.
“It’s definitely a measure we’re evaluating. There is a lot of phenomenal evidence from Dauphin, Manitoba to support this. There is no doubt to me that income security is a pillar…and will be a part of our plan,” he tells Leaders and Legacies.
A Conversation with Hugh Segal
Two days after Rachel Notley’s NDP swept to power in Alberta, Iveson found himself having a conversation with former Conservative Senator, Hugh Segal, and now Master of Massey College. Segal has long been the conservative standard-bearer on basic income guarantee policy.
“I had an extraordinary conversation with him about a guaranteed annual income,” recalls Iveson. Segal was proof, he says, that there is a “broad coalition of people who think this is the right things to do.”
The mayor says a basic income guarantee “would cut to the chase on a lot of this work” on poverty reduction. He believes it would also help the housing situation for people living in poverty, since they could then afford to have the foundational base they need for success.
Iveson says he is aware the federal Liberal Party has talked about trying out pilots. As well, the Green Party also supports a form of basic income guarantee.
The mayor says that city leaders like him “can help move the needle on public acceptance” for such policy, given the absence of party affiliations.