BC government announces study of basic income for all residents

Jul 4 2018, 5:36 am

As part of what it says is an effort to “reduce poverty and prepare for the emerging economy,” the BC government announced today that it has appointed a team to lead a “BC-focused” exploration of basic income.

Today’s announcement follows one by the government earlier this year, that it was planning to provide $4 million over two years to “test the feasibility” of a basic income program in BC.

“The province will look at whether a basic income is an effective way to improve income security, reduce poverty, and address the impact of technological change,” the plan said.

On Tuesday, the government said this next step relates to a commitment in the Confidence and Supply Agreement between government and the BC Green Party caucus.

Three people have been tasked to head up the research team. They include:

  • David Green, from the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia (UBC), will chair the expert committee
  • Jonathan Rhys Kesselman, from the School of Public Policy at Simon Fraser University
  • Lindsay Tedds, from the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary

The committee will oversee independent research to test the feasibility of a basic-income pilot in the province and look at how basic income principles might be used to improve the existing income and social support system.

“The researchers will look at whether a basic income is a viable option to reduce poverty, build financial security, and increase inclusion and well-being,”said Shane Simpson, the Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.

The committee will also consider the impact that advances in technology and automation will have on the labour market over the next several decades.

While few details on how the test program would unfold – or what it would look like – have been revealed thus far, it could potentially follow the same guidelines as the basic income pilot project that was launched in Ontario last year.

In that province, the government is assessing whether a basic income can better support vulnerable workers and improve health and education outcomes for people on low incomes, according to the Government of Ontario.

Through the Ontario model, eligible participants – which number around 4,000 people between the ages of 18 to 64 – receive:

  • Up to $16,989 per year for a single person, less 50% of any earned income
  • Up to $24,027 per year for a couple, less 50% of any earned income
  • Up to an additional $6,000 per year for a person with a disability
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