As Trump Ends Stimulus Talk, Canada Debates A Basic Income Model

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudea.Screengrab / CTV News / YouTube


Unlike a universal basic income, where every adult receives a payment, Canada's model would target low-income citizens.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, lawmakers in Canada are set to debate the merits of a basic income model that would increase income for the country’s low-income citizens.

  • The New Statesman reported that “Six Liberal MPs have since proposed a policy resolution for a guaranteed minimum income, which party delegates voted to fast-track to the debate floor ahead of their national convention in November.”
  • Under the proposed basic income model, low-income Canadians would have their earnings topped-up by the government until they reach a predetermined minimum, which could vary by location depending on the cost of living.

“We have learned lessons in the course of this crisis, and one of those lessons is that our social safety net was not fit for purpose,” resolution co-sponsor and Toronto MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith said in a TV interview. “Millions of Canadians would have been left behind if the government had not moved quickly to reinvent our social safety net through the CERB,” he added, referring to the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, a $500 (£300) weekly payment sent to previously employed and self-employed people whose work has dried up during the pandemic.

  • Support for implementing a basic income appears relatively strong in Canada, with one poll finding that 59 percent of Canadians favor such a move; however, “only 36 per cent say they would be willing to personally pay more tax to help fund it.”
  • But if the Liberal convention passes a guaranteed income motion, it’s likely to find support from other left-leaning parties in parliament. The New Democratic Party, whose 24 seats would combine with the Liberals’ 157 for a majority – has already proposed a basic income [motion]( of its own. By announcing that it will support the throne speech, the NDP has also prevented a snap general election.

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