News; News & Events

CANADA: Federal Minister Interested in Basic Income

The Globe and Mail, Canada’s main centrist newspaper, reported on Friday 5 February 2016 that a federal government minister “is interested in the idea of a guaranteed [minimum] income.” Mr. Jean-Yves Duclos, the new Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, said, “I’m personally pleased that people are interested in the idea.” Mr. Duclos has a mandate to develop a federal poverty-reduction strategy.

Mr. Duclos is part of the Liberal Party of Canada, which won a parliamentary majority in the October 2015 federal election. The Liberal Party’s progressive electoral platform enabled the party to replace the Conservative party on the left and win many seats previously held by the New Democratic Party (Canada’s social democratic party) on the left. Key election promises included deficit spending to stimulate economic growth, the legalization of marijuana, electoral reform, a concerted effort to tackle climate change and a comprehensive national poverty-reduction strategy. Their strong parliamentary majority has given the party a clear mandate to pursue this progressive agenda in earnest.

However, although efforts to reduce poverty feature prominently in the official Liberal platform, a guaranteed minimum income did not. It is therefore unlikely to form part of Mr. Duclos’ national poverty-reduction strategy during the government’s current four-year term. Nevertheless, The Globe and Mail suggests that Mr. Duclos’ comments could lead to the idea’s inclusion in a future Liberal Party election manifesto. His comments would also seem to have substantial support among Liberal Party members with the 2014 Liberal Party Convention producing two major policy resolutions on a basic income.

Furthermore, the introduction of a federal guaranteed minimum income might not be such a difficult sell with Canada’s provincial governments, all of which would have to participate in such an initiative. It was announced in January 2016 that Mr. François Blais, Québec’s new Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity, will work towards introducing a provincial guaranteed minimum income. Meanwhile, the Liberal Party of Manitoba has pledged to introduce two guaranteed minimum income pilot projects if the party wins the provincial elections in April 2016.

Written by: Jon West

For more details on this story see:

Bill Curry, “Guaranteed income has merit as a national policy, minister says,” The Globe and Mail. February 5, 2016.

Credit picture CC UNU-WIDER

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The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.


  • real

    WOW how much research went into writing this? The liberal party defeated the right wing conservative party not the left wing new democrats.

    Please dont write about canada anymore, this is such a basic part of the research you should have done, that it undermines any credibility you have as a writer never mind as a journalist.

  • Jenna van Draanen

    Hi Real,
    Thanks for the feedback, I can see how the wording might have been confusing. Of course, the Liberals defeated the Conservatives in the most recent election in Canada. The author, Jon West, meant that the Liberals took many of the seats previously occupied by the NDP and managed to capture some of the “progressive” vote that the NDP held during the last election. Thanks again for pointing out how confusing the initial wording was, we updated the article to reflect the actual election outcome as well as the original intent of the post. We rely on feedback from readers like you to make sure our content makes sense to everyone.
    – Jenna

  • Kat

    Still confusing and your article doesn’t appear to have changed at all.
    I just wonder how such a plan would be funded. No mention of that. What the costs would be?

    • Andre Coelho

      The article is not focused on funding schemes, nor does it have to be. At present it is focused on presenting the evolution of Canadian politics in what concerns social security, poverty alleviation and basic income.

  • The current debate in Canada is how to proceed in implementing one or more pilot projects in various provinces. I have written an article in the International Social Policy Monitor ( arguing that pilot projects would be counter productive because, among other reasons, they would require several years and the potential alignment of political consensus which exists now would be lost. Complex human behavior experiments are also very difficult to evaluate because there are too many variables.

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