75,000 artists have signed a letter calling on the Canadian government to implement an income guarantee.

We, the undersigned, are calling upon the Government of Canada to honour its
commitment to poverty reduction and instate a Basic Income Guarantee to
make a historic investment in a better tomorrow;

We call upon the Government of Canada to hereby reduce the inequities
exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic: to remove the financial obstacles
faced by our most vulnerable, to alleviate gender-based poverty, and to address
the economic inequality based in persistent racism and colonialism;

We call upon the Government of Canada to implement a universally accessible
and unconditional basic income program that guarantees an income floor to
anyone in need.


To read the letter, click here

And here to read the press release.


Clarifications

We asked the letter’s authors to clarify a number of definitional matters left unclear in the letter.

  • BIEN’s definition of a Basic Income is ‘a periodic cash payment unconditionally delivered to all on an individual basis, without means-test or work requirement’.
  • The letter is clear that the payments envisaged would be ‘regardless of work status’, so there would be no work requirement.
  • The letter asks for an income that ‘guarantees an income floor to anyone in need’. Such an income floor could be provided by an income-tested benefit rather than by a Basic Income. The authors have written to clarify that in the Canadian context a ‘means test’ is a test that covers a variety of assets, incomes, and behaviours, and that the income proposed in the letter would be income-tested, but would not suffer from the other tests associated with a Canadian means test.
  • Most of the global Basic Income debate assumes that a means test necessarily includes an income test, so the normal assumption is that a Basic Income paid ‘without means test’ would be paid without an income test, and so would be paid at the same amount to everybody of the same age. The income described in the open letter is income-tested, and so is not a Basic Income according to the normal assumption.
  • The letter is not clear whether the payment would be paid on an individual or a household basis. The authors have written to say that this issue ‘was not discussed at any time by the authors of the letter’.

We can conclude that if the income envisaged by the letter were to be paid on an individual basis, and if it were to be paid without an income test, then it would be a genuine Basic Income according to BIEN’s definition.

About Malcolm Torry

Malcolm Torry has written 56 articles.