Yv Bonnier Viger. Picture credit to: Huffpost Quebec

 

Gaspesie and Îles-de-la-Madeleine regional public health director Yv Bonnier Viger is convinced that basic income can have dramatic positive effects on people’s health. So much so that the local public health sector, plus other regional organizations focused on health, well-being and poverty alleviation, are pushing for a 20-year long experiment in these two localities, also including Bas-Saint-Laurent.

 

Viger already knows the usual results of basic income experiments: “The experiments done around the world have always given results that go along the same direction: reducing mortality, violence, urgent care visits, hospitalizations, etc.”, he says. Moreover, he is also aware that people (according to experiments) do not use unconditional cash to acquire superfluous things, or to stop working as a result of receiving it. In this context, an (basic income) experimental setup in this region would expectedly be confirming these same results tested at other locations.

 

This setup is being considered as a negative income tax (NIT), after knowing each recipient declared annual income. After surveying true living costs in the three municipalities abovementioned, the idea is to dispense (every two weeks) unconditional cash gradually, for all those earning less than 40000 CAN$/year. The income starting point – someone earning 0 CAN$/month – would then become 17500 CAN$/year, which approximately amounts to Quebec’s official poverty line.

 

Financing the experiment would be based on replacing conditional social aid already in place in the region, without touching, however, retirement income (which is based on lifetime contributions). The project’s overall annual cost has been estimated at 800 million CAN$, which is expected to diminish over time, as more savings are made available in the public health sector, social aid management and other public related expenditures.

 

 

More information at:

Quebec is considering a 20-year basic income pilot”, Basic Income Today, July 19th 2019

(In French)

Stephanie Gendron, “Idée d’un projet-pilote de 20 ans pour un revenu de base dans l’Est-du-Québec”, Le Placoteux, June 26th 2019

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