Canadian social programs were designed for a world in which most people graduated from high school, then found a permanent job with benefits that, barring unforeseen accidents, they would hold until they retired with a pension — all under the benevolent eye of their workplace union. In the last forty years, however, the labour market has fundamentally changed. Good, full-time jobs have been replaced by part-time or temporary work that pays lower wages, offers fewer benefits and rarely comes with union support. Economic insecurity is now a feature of the lives of large numbers of people. Those forced to rely on provincial income assistance or disability support find themselves trapped in a system that perpetuates dependence.
This new situation has given new life to an old idea — basic income. This book explores basic income from a Canadian perspective. It reports on research from the original test in Manitoba in the 1970s to the Ontario initiative launched by the Wynne government, then killed by the Ford Tories.
The evidence shows that basic income improves family and community health and well being, improves financial resilience, and improves access to education and training — all at an affordable cost.
EVELYN L. FORGET is an economist in the School of Medicine at the University of Manitoba. Several years ago she began researching the data associated with a basic income field experiment conducted in Manitoba in the 1970s. She has been consulted by governments and researchers in Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, Finland, the Netherlands and Scotland on this topic. Her research has been featured on CBC Ideas, PBS Marketplace, Freakonomics and in the documentary The Free Lunch Society. She lives in Winnipeg.
"Basic Income for Canadians: The Key to a Healthier, Happier, More Secure Life for All should not be private, though it should be required reading for every federal and provincial bureaucrat, every municipal politician, and every business owner. It should be on the must-read list for every Canadian who has even the slightest interest in where our nation is headed, and where it could be."
"This book will help readers to inform themselves so that we can uncover the will to ensure health, happiness and security for all of us."
"This is an even-handed and thorough survey of what basic income can, and also importantly cannot, do ... It would be a refreshing change from the current state of affairs if politicians on all sides took Forget up on her offer."
"A compelling case for how and why to implement a basic income in Canada"