Canada: A 20-year basic income experiment is being considered in Quebec

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

About Andre Coelho

André Coelho has written 365 articles.

Activist. Engineer. Musician. For the more beautiful world our hearts know it's possible.

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.


  • Angel NicGillicuddy

    If you leave the money
    In the hoardable form
    Then nothing will change
    You will be deeper in illusion
    Than ever
    And wondering
    What happened.
    The Basic Income must be given
    Using money with Demurrage..
    Where each payment “melts” completely
    Just before the next payment is received.
    Payment intervals are based on
    How well the recipient
    Can manage money.
    Some will need daily payments
    at first.
    And one of the most important reasons or justifications
    For giving The Basic Income
    Is to properly distribute
    All of the so called
    This will also set our
    industrial complex
    On the good course
    Regarding realistic future orders.

    If you leave our money in
    The hoardable form,
    Then The Establishment is not threatened at all.
    Is not Natural.
    It is Floccinaucinihilipilification.
    Yours Truly
    Angel NicGillicuddy ?
    The Levant News
    ShiBboLeTh and India
    The Settlement
    Before ShiBboLeTh
    Sequel to ShiBboLeTh
    Santa’s Retirement

    • Andre Coelho


      Could you put your writing in a more compact form, say a couple of paragraphs?


  • Pete

    We need to get rid of this welfare and most corrupt province. A drain on all canadian taxpayers

  • Andrea Brown

    I am just wondering if the Quebec, tenses, could replace the tents with park model homes, install septic tank, battery generators and solar panels. Vancouver Tent Cities did this.
    what about seting up some of these home, near the Quebec Border, install septic tanks, solo power.

  • Bernard Kirkham

    Who would make a decision on this in Quebec?

    I suppose a concept like BI will have many false starts and take a zig-zag course toward acceptance.

    But we should be very clear about the distinction between welfare experiments, and Universal Basic Income. UBI cannot be proven efficacious by little bits of tinkering with the dole. Just do it. The aim is the redistribution of wealth, and the discussion/fight is about the level at which it is set. A low level will deliver a more bureaucratically efficient welfare system, a high level will deliver a more efficient, just and enjoyable life for all.

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