Manitoba, the Canadian province which was the location of one of the most well-known basic income experiments of the last century, may be re-examining the possibility of instituting a basic income guarantee (BIG) following a recommendation from the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.

The Winnipeg Chamber, which describes itself as “Winnipeg’s largest business association”, recently contributed to the local Manitoban government’s consultation on poverty reduction strategies. Among the suggestions made by the Chamber was a further study into the viability of what is called minimum income, mincome, or a basic income guarantee.

A mincome differs from BIEN’s own definition of basic income due to being means-tested, and tapered off for higher income groups. However, it also differs from more traditional benefits systems for several reasons: it is not targeted at specific groups such as parents or those with disabilities; there are no requirements to spend it in certain ways; and it is guaranteed to all those below a defined income level. Some regard mincome as a stepping-stone to universal basic income (UBI), while others see it as an end in itself.

A policy paper released by the Winnipeg Chamber stated: “Minimum income supports the concept that all work has value, including non-paid work. Examples of non-paid work would be volunteering in the community or working in the home supporting family members. People have been taking on those roles without pay and some may think their work doesn’t have or create any value. Yet without those volunteers and homemakers, our society would suffer greatly. Earning an income increases an individual’s feeling of personal worth and value, which is invaluable.”

In 1973, one of the most well-known experiments on basic income took place in Manitoba, in a number of areas including the town of Dauphin. All residents of the town were provided with regular income, free of conditions, for a period of several years, and analysis of the data collected has shown that a number of positive effects resulted from this, ranging from improved school results for children to a reduction in several mental illness.

About Claire Bott

Claire Bott has written 29 articles.