The province is running consultations on a proposed Basic Income Pilot Project. One was held in Hamilton in November.
What is a basic income? Ontario defines it as “a payment from the government to eligible people and families to ensure they meet a minimum income level.”
The pilot project will impact a few citizens in the short term and maybe others some years down the line. Meanwhile, experts disagree on whether basic income is a good thing.
Below we have gathered six comments from policy experts. These experts contributed to the publication Basic Income: Rethinking Social Policy by Trish Hennessy and Alex Himelfarb of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).
- Basic income and social assistance are opposites and based on a different value system. We have forms of basic income, the Canada Child Benefit is one example, that have been working well. “The issue for Canada is not whether a good basic income is possible but who is left out. And how can we fix that?” – Sheila Regehr
- The basic income trial in Dauphin Manitoba in the 70’s showed a reduction in hospitalizations of 8.5%. Such a reduction Canada wide could result in savings of $5.4 billion annually. – Ryan Meili and Danielle Martin
- “What many other criticisms of guaranteed income have in common is concern about the intentions of government”……..government may use the existence of the basic income program “as a reason to diminish other social benefits….” – Dan Wilson
- Spending more to eliminate poverty and provide services rather than providing a basic income has proponents.
“We should use this moment to experiment with the designs that can tell us if we’re better off when we have more income, or need less of it.….We should not neglect other labour policies, that focus on things like employment standards.”- Margot Young
- A basic income should not act as a subsidy for employers who pay low wages, nor should it be an excuse for reducing employment.” Anita Khanna
- “Basic income as a concept sounds great. But as always, the devil is in the details.” – Jennefer Laidley
The above is a quick sampling, really only a snapshot, of opinion. We encourage you to take a look at the full report from the CCPA. Also, the Income Security and Advocacy Centre (ISAC) has resource material on its website at http://yourlegalrights.on.ca/resource/basic-income-what-it-and-what-could-it-mean-social-assistance?tid_ref=16
Bob Wood is a Community Worker at the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic