Faun Rice: “The Global Turn to Cash Transfers”

Faun Rice: “The Global Turn to Cash Transfers”

Faun Rice, a former Basic Income News editor, has just posted an article on the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) (and the characteristics it shares with universal basic income). That article, called “The Global Turn to Cash Transfers”, starts with a lucid but provocative opening:

Before March 2020, the Canadian public probably would have rebelled at the idea of a program that delivered a full-time minimum wage to 20% of the population without requiring them to demonstrate that they couldn’t find a job. A global pandemic has created an ideological shift where many of us are suddenly very empathetic with the unemployed — and this gives Canada an opportunity to trial unprecedented policies and ask some never-before-possible questions, including: what happens when we just give people money?

More information at:

Faun Rice, “The Global Turn to Cash Transfers“, Medium (Digital Policy Salon), April 30th 2020

Canada: The Ontario Basic Income (cancelled) experiment, revealed

Canada: The Ontario Basic Income (cancelled) experiment, revealed

The findings of the McMaster University Basic Income Project (MUBIP) were released on the 4th of March 2020. The study looked into the impact of the Ontario Basic Income on over 200 recipients in one of the pilot sites, namely Hamilton-Brantford, where 1000 recipients were initially enrolled into the program. Even though the previously hired research team’s contract to evaluate the program was cancelled (by the present government), a new analysis was made possible through funding from the Hamilton Community Foundation, McMaster University and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
The findings were publicized at a lauch event on the referred day, organized by the McMaster Institute for Health Equity taking place at the L.R. Wilson Concert Hall, and having Hugh Segal as a guest. From the new study conclusions, it can be read:
  • Everyone who received basic income reported benefitting in some way.
  • Many recipients reported improvements in their physical and mental health, labour market participation, food security, housing stability, financial status and social relationships.
  • Basic income also had a noticeable impact on the use of health services, with many of the survey respondents indicating less frequent visits to health practitioners and hospital emergency rooms.
  • For a significant number of participants, basic income purportedly proved to be transformational, fundamentally reshaping their living standards as well as their sense of self-worth and hope for a better future.
  • The majority of those employed before the pilot reported working while they were receiving basic income. Many reported moving to higher paying and more secure jobs.
  • Those working before the pilot reported even greater improvements on some measures of well-being than those who were not working before.

More information at:

Laurie Monsebraaten, “Did basic income drive people to quit work? Not according to a Mac study of recipients“, The Hamilton Spectator, March 4th 2020

Canada: New report from the Basic Income Canada Network shows how to improve income security for everyone

Canada: New report from the Basic Income Canada Network shows how to improve income security for everyone

new report from the Basic Income Canada Network (BICN) details how Canada could improve income security for everyone, with three options for a basic income for adults, while maintaining current child benefits for those under 18.

“We’ve seen interest in basic income grow far beyond theoretical debates. BICN is now frequently asked what it would look like in Canada,” said Chandra Pasma, a member of the BICN Advisory Council and co-author of the report. “Our report clearly shows there are multiple options Canadian governments could use to implement a successful basic income program.”

A basic income is an unconditional cash transfer from government to individuals to enable everyone to meet their basic needs, participate in society, and live with dignity, regardless of work status. The call for a basic income is growing, including from public health and environmental sectors, Nobel laureate economists, marginalized communities and people concerned about precarious work and technological disruption. The urgent need to reduce inequality and its costly consequences has led some researchers, advocates, and politicians to the conclusion that basic income is inevitable.

Statistics Canada’s Social Policy Simulation Database and Model (SPSD/M) was used to model the funding of the options, combining existing resources with changes to the tax/transfer system, including tax fairness measures. All options are based on BICN’s principles and goals–to reduce inequality, including inequality between women and men; prevent poverty; provide everyone with greater income security, including middle-income earners; and ensure the wealthiest individuals and corporations contribute their fair share. Each option in the report, Basic Income: Some Policy Options for Canada, meets these overall goals.

Option 1 is for 18-64 year olds based on household income, operating much like child benefits, with the $22,000/year ($31,113 for a couple) benefit amount gradually reducing as other income increases; seniors benefits remain in place.
Option 2 is similarly income-tested and is for all adults, including seniors.
Option 3 is a universal model, sometimes called a demogrant, that provides the same benefit amount to every individual adult.

“The options vary administratively so don’t get sidetracked by the size of the different up-front costs,” notes Sheila Regehr, Chair of BICN. “It doesn’t mean one is much more expensive than another. The options have similar results for people and they are all funded from similar sources.” The report also notes that other funding sources for a basic income are possible, as well as downstream savings that can help make it even more affordable.

“Basic income in Canada is not a question of possibilities, but of priorities,” said Regehr. “It is clear from child and seniors benefits that it works for many Canadians already. The federal government’s priority now must be to take leadership to make it work for everybody; we are all part of the future of this country.”

To download the full report, click here.
To download a summary of the report, click here.

Canada: People claim for basic income on the streets of Toronto

Canada: People claim for basic income on the streets of Toronto

 

Within the context of the wider Basic Income March, organized and executed on the past 26th of October, Toronto also saw a basic income manifestation. This was done simultaneously in other cities, such as New York, Amsterdam, Bogota and Seoul. Attendance was moderate, a few dozen people only, but the message conveyed was strong: that each citizen should receive an unconditional and regular amount of money, just in order to “have access to a certain level of comfort”, as Amélie Payette, one of the demonstrators, put it. Other people, at the venue, also referred to the “obligation to help prepare the future”, in the face of technological developments that are already displacing many people from the job market.

 

Also present at the demonstration was Alvin Tedjo, candidate to the Ontario Liberal Party leadership, who believes basic income can be what citizens need to cover their basic needs, in terms of nourishment and housing, and to fully participate in the economy. That, according to Tedjo, would allow people to “do their best to fulfill their potential”. Participants at the march also pointed to the fact that parents in Canada already receive a stipend, only conditional to them being parents of under-aged children (Canada’s Child Benefit). That, according to some, could one day amount to a basic income, if extended to the whole population.

 

The event has been covered by CBS News, shortly reported here.

 

More information at:

[in French]

Des citoyens réclament un revenu universel de base au Canada”, Radio-Canada, October 26th 2019

Canada: Prince Edward Island Activists Call for Basic Income Guarantee in Lead Up to Canadian Election

Canada: Prince Edward Island Activists Call for Basic Income Guarantee in Lead Up to Canadian Election

Ann Wheatley (from the PEI Working Group for a Livable Income). Picture credit to: CBC

 

Despite the dismantling of Ontario’s Basic Income pilot after the election of the Conservative Party in the 2018 provincial election, basic income continues to play a critical role in Canadian politics, both at the provincial and national level. Leading up to the 2019 federal election, the Prince Edward Island (PEI) Working Group for a Liveable Income decorated doors across the province with doorhangers that read, “Eliminating poverty matters to voters who live here.” The doorhangers would help spread the message to candidates when they came to do their usual canvasing before the election on October 21st.

 

The Liberal Party, led by Justin Trudeau, emerged as the winner in the election, forming a minority government after only securing a narrow victory. The Liberal Party, who officially supports a basic income guarantee, won in all ridings across PEI. Regardless of the setback in Ontario, basic income continues to be an important issue to Canadian voters.

 

More information at:

Yarr K.,“‘Sorry to have missed you’: Poverty activists turn tables on door-knocking politicians”, CBC, September 30th 2019

Canadian federal election 2019: Live results map and riding-by-riding vote counts”, Maclean’s, October 21st 2019