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Opinion

Navigating the politics of basic income

By Jamie Swift and Elaine Power      

Some advocates are wondering whether the Trudeau Liberals, having ignored it in their free-spending spring budget, might be canny enough play the basic-income card in the upcoming election.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is pictured on Nov. 23, 2020. One of the devilish details about basic income is the need for federal action. Despite widespread Liberal Party support, it’s safe to assume that Treasury Board and Finance officials, spooked by cost and prey to short-term thinking, remain an obstacle, write Jamie Swift and Elaine Power. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

Weeks before the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, the Basic Income Canada Network (BICN) published a detailed set of policy options for a Canadian basic income (BI). An unconditional, income-tested cash transfer from the state to individuals. Crucially, unrelated to work status. It would enable everyone to meet their basic needs while participating more fully in social life—in essence, to live with a measure of dignity.

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