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The Globe & Mail: Guaranteed annual minimum income

June 30, 2014 — 

The idea of a guaranteed annual minimum income is again in the news, after a weekend conference in Montreal organized by Basic Income Canada Network. Rob Rainer, a campaign director for the organization, envisions a country where everyone is assured a minimum of $20,000 annually to make ends meet. Manitoba was famously the site for such government pilot project in the 1970s; residents of Dauphin were provided with a guaranteed minimum income from 1974 to 1978.

The 15th annual conference, titled “Re-democratizing the Economy,” was hosted by McGill University’s Faculty of Law and included participants from the U of M. The Globe & Mail reported:

More than 100 speakers and participants were on hand for the conference, which focused on the merits of a guaranteed minimum income that would either replace or exist alongside existing social programs.

The idea is hardly new — the Canadian and Manitoba government conducted an experiment with the issue in the 1970s — but it has enjoyed a resurgence lately.

The goal of the program, which cost $17 million, was to find out whether providing extra money directly to residents below a certain household income level would make for effective social policy.

The community’s overall health improved and hospital rates declined during the period, according to a 2010 study by Evelyn Forget, a [community health sciences, College of Medicine] professor at the University of Manitoba.

Former Conservative senator Hugh Segal, who officially resigned from his post this month, argued for years in favour of the idea, saying it would provide more effective services at a reduced cost.

 

The conference was also covered by Global News, CTV News, The Star and other news outlets. For more on the idea of an annual income, see this UM Today story on U of M economist professor Wayne Simpson, who spoke to The Globe & Mail about the history of the idea in early 2014.

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