What is a basic income?
A basic income is a periodic, unconditional cash payment sent to individuals from the government. It ensures recipients can meet their basic needs and live with dignity regardless of their work status.
Different terms are used to describe key characteristics of a basic income. A universal basic income (UBI) describes an unconditional payment made to a broad sector of society, rich or poor, such as all citizens, adults or residents. A basic income guarantee (BIG) establishes an income floor that eliminates the risk of falling into poverty. While universally available, it is income-tested and only delivered to those who need it, regardless of their work status. A guaranteed livable income (GLI) is used to emphasize the importance of the benefit being sufficient, not just to survive, but to be able to live with dignity and to participate fully in community. In Canada, most basic income advocates support a livable basic income guarantee.
Basic Income: A non-discrimination policy
We advocate for a basic income that is a critical and integral component of a just society.
We recognize that oppression in all its forms – including colonialism, racism, sexism, and paternalism – is deeply embedded and enacted within our society. As a result, vast disparities in income, wealth, and health exist. COVID-19 has compounded these disparities and shone a harsh and unavoidable light upon their causes.
Now is the time for systemic and substantive change. In advocating for a basic income, we work in solidarity with those who demand Indigenous rights, racial equity, gender equity, climate action, and an end to oppression. A basic income is a cornerstone of a just, equitable, and ecologically sustainable recovery and society.
Frequently Asked Questions
In October 2020, basic income advocates from Coalition Canada: basic income – revenu de base held a Parliament Hill Lobby Week, which resulted in Zoom meetings with more than 80 Members of Parliament and Senators from every political party and ridings across Canada. COVID-19 has raised the interest of parliamentarians in the idea of a basic income guarantee and how such a program could work.
During these Lobby Day meetings, parliamentarians raised important questions about basic income and how it would work, how much it would cost and how we would pay for it. Many MP’s requested Coalition Canada to put together an FAQ that summarizes the answers to their most important and frequently asked questions. The answers are based on the current evidence.
Call to Action
We call on our federal MPs and Senators, as well as our provincial MLAs to rebuild our social safety net for the 21st Century, with a livable basic income guarantee as a cornerstone of our social, ecological and economic recovery plans.
Our federal and provincial governments have stated that their priority after the pandemic is to ‘build back better’. But we can’t embark on this journey with a social safety net that is outdated, inefficient and leaves people falling through the cracks. The pandemic has shone a light on these gaps. Income security is now a major concern for most Canadians as we face 21st Century threats to our safety and security from pandemics, climate change and rapid technological advancement, where stable full-time good paying jobs are rapidly being replaced by precarious employment.
A livable national basic income guarantee is a cornerstone for a new and improved social safety net, providing an income floor that ensures no one is left behind. It is what Canadians need and what our communities need, in order to transition from risk to resilience.
We hope this FAQ will help point you to the evidence on which we can base responsible and productive discussions and decisions about basic income. We encourage you to let us know any concerns, questions, and issues which you would like to discuss.