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Liberals ready to shake up Canada’s social policy with basic income guarantee

file0001493334443 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.

“This is a very exciting development, and one that will inform Minister (Jean-Yves) Duclos’ mandate to pursue a poverty reduction strategy,” says Robin Boadway, a retired economics professor and BICN member. “Importantly, the resolution recognizes that the federal government need not await the results of pilot projects to move ahead with a basic income program with the engagement of the provinces.”

Alan Gummo, a retired planner and public policy researcher, as well as a BICN member, says he isparticularly pleased about the unequivocal nature of the resolution.”

“It is unqualified and unconditional thereby giving clear direction to the design and development of a national program,” he adds.

In the Liberal Party’s rationale, it states:

“The ever growing gap between the wealthy and the poor in Canada will lead to social unrest, increased crime rates and violence. Research indicates that a guaranteed basic income can reduce this gap, and create social security while being cost neutral. Savings in health, justice, education and social welfare as well as the building of self-reliant, taxpaying citizens more than offset the investment.”

The rationale then recaps the famous Canadian Mincome experiment from the 1970s to support its arguments. Mincome’s purpose was to determine whether a guaranteed, unconditional annual income caused disincentive to work for the recipients, and how great such a disincentive would be.

As the Liberal Party’s rationale states, a final report was never issued, but Dr. Evelyn Forget conducted an analysis of the program in 2009 which was published in 2011.

“Forget found that in the period that Mincome was administered, hospital visits dropped 8.5 percent, with fewer incidents of work-related injuries, and fewer emergency room visits from car accidents and domestic abuse. Additionally, the period saw a reduction in rates of psychiatric hospitalization, and in the number of mental illness-related consultations with health professionals.”

Quebec is currently looking into a form of basic income and Ontario has committed to doing a pilot project beginning this year to study the effects of a minimum income. Prince Edward Island has also expressed strong interest.

Senator Art Eggleton has been relentlessly pushing this issue, as has his retired counterpart, retired Conservative Senator Hugh Segal.

Mayors across Canada are also on board. In fact, no less than nine provincial and territorial capital leaders support basic income or at least pilot projects, with innumerable smaller city and town mayors across the nation declaring their support as well.



  1. This is really great news. Now if only the powers that be would listen to me and I could explain how this could be paid without raising taxes!

    • A reduction in criminal justice and health costs, perhaps?

    • Philip Dalgleish

      One aspect to this is that it could replace existing social welfare systems, eliminating the administrative structure involved and, of course, moving payments directly to citizens and not to program administration. Theoretically, it would be a net reduction in cost, therefore funded entirely under existing taxation structure.

    • Tax the rich. easy.

    • It’s explained in the article. Basically the government will save money on other social costs relating to crime, injury, and addiction. Governing the impoverished is costly business.

    • right now a lot of tax dollars goes to facilitating the welfare program and EI and other social assistance system that are needed only because this income guarantee isnt a thing. THere would be a period of expense, as we bring in the new system and defunct the old system. Once the transition was done, there would be a lot less over head costs on all levels (Fed/Prov/Muni) in terms of tax dollars.

      The expense may be a burden at first while we try to change decades of bureaucratic systems but i do honestly believe that once the new system was working, the cost would be less. We cant let the fear of a little extra cost stand in the way of proper social change.

    • Would love to know your thinking in that regard David. Thanks.

  2. Is Nova Scotia going to do this as well. We are always screwed here by our provinal government

  3. Concerned Canadian

    Sounds like another reason for people to sleep in until 12:00 everyday…because they are promised an income either way…..society has to learn to make its own opportunities… we already have EI and Welfare that cost the tax payers in this country a fortune.

    • What are you talking about, with a basic income you eliminate all those social programs that cost money, also crime rates go down hospital visits go down and in turn governments can take all those savings and give it to people.

  4. WOW, I have written to the prime minister 4 or5 times now, about the fact that the Syrian immigrants got $29,000 for the year, because that is apparently the poverty level in Canada, I am a senior citizen of this country, and I do not have any personal pension, and my old age, + Canada pension only come to 17,000 per year, that is approximately 1/2 of the poverty level, and I am expected to live on that, it is not possible, I say, I exist, I don,t live

    I am delighted to hear that the liberal gov. Is finally going to give us a guaranteed income, I can only hope that we will also get the poverty level amount of $29,000, the same as they gave to the immigrants
    Thanks to mr. Trudeau for thinking of the poor people, I am disabled, and I still manage to live alone, butI do need a lot of help, which I can,t afford, this will make my life much easier, and more pleasant.

  5. I hope this includes the disabled Canadians who need more than just a minimum income, who also need a home and a support system in place. This plan could also go far to end homelessness, if the planners think about it.

  6. It’s been explained a million times. Lower bureaucracy, streamlining into one payment for everyone instead of different departments. Welfare, Family Allowance Payments, GST Credits, Disability Payments, Old Age Pension etc. etc, all administered by one office, sending out one cheque a month to everyone with no income test – again less bureaucracy. It actually saves money, so our taxes should go down. Look up the Fraser Institute’s study on the subject. Plus all the social advantages explained in this article, less health care costs etc.

  7. Taxes do not pay for federal expenditures in a country with a sovereign currency.
    In order to make this dream possible, we need to stop borrowing money from provate banks and paying compound interest on those loans with tax payers dollars.

    This is, however, extremely good news, and I hope my premier (Rachel Notley) is on board.


  8. No one should get free money. If you receive then you need to provide a service, be it cleaning a park, helping at a local seniors lodge etc. No body is given self esteem and self worth. You need to earn it. Look to our native population as an example.

  9. Effects of poverty: malnourished children with inadequate education, homelessness, seniors living well below the poverty line, crime, fostering of extremist ideology and segregation, to name a few. The working poor, a contradiction, if you are working then why are you poor.
    The poverty line in BC has been set by the provincial government at $32,000 per year. Any less than that is not adequate to meet living requirements. Most seniors are living on less than half that amount. Under the current GIS for seniors you would have to be living in poverty for a minimum of 3 years to collect it, you would be homeless before you could ever receive the supplement. Shameful, a real insult to poor seniors.

  10. It’s a great idea. Unfortunately it won’t work. Every time the minimum wage goes up prices across the board go up increasing the cost of living for everyone. If they truly wish to do something, change the monetary policy back so the Bank of Canada (BoC)controls the creation of Canada’s money instead of the chartered banks. Also they need to restore the chartered banks having to keep a strong percentage of their depositors deposits on reserve with the BoC for the governments use. This was what was the intent of the BoC and the original BoC Act. This allowed the government access to money for 0 or next to 0% interest for infrastructure projects across the country. This is how Canada became so strong through the age of the baby boomers. This was how Canada’s healthcare policies were developed and maintained. Unfortunately, PM Pierre Elliott Trudeau after listening to the chartered banks tales of woe saying they were headed for financial collapse unless Trudeau loosens the deposit requirements with the BoC. Trudeau fell for it. He dropped the deposits roughly leaving only 1/3 with the BoC. This was the start of the Governments love affair with borrowing against our next generations futures. This was the start of our out of control interest rates into the 1980″s. Then along came Brian Mulrooney with claims of getting the Liberals spend thrift ways in control. Unfortunately Canadian’s were duped. PM Mulrooney was told the chartered banks were headed for financial collapse again, Mulrooney released the remaining deposits so the chartered banks do not have to deposit anything. Remember in the 1980’s when the Royal Bank of Canada declared their first record $1 Billion profit. This was followed in time by all the banks. The only financial collapse was for Canadian’s, the BoC no longer was the governments cash provider, they continued the borrowing love affair by borrowing from chartered banks and foreign governments. Today, we are seeing nothing but cash going out the windows of every citizen. Now Trudeau Jr. wants to do this? Guess where the money is going to come from? That’s right, BORROW IT. Canada cannot afford this. Restore the BoC Act to it’s original intent. Restore chartered banks to where they should be. But alas, as we all know, they’re the government, they are only accountable to anyone but us.

  11. Angela Gallant

    I notice BC is not listed as one of the supporters…. -.-

  12. hmmm a plan right out of Bernie Sanders playbook. Now just where is this monry supposed to come from?

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