Basic income: Senator Kim Pate urges Senate to take action

By Roderick Benns

Senator Kim Pate is urging senators to take action on supporting the implementation of a basic income in Canada.

Nearly five decades ago, the senate issued an urgent call for a nation-wide guaranteed livable income.

The 1971 Croll Report was responding to unacceptable conditions of poverty. In the meantime, evidence has continued to mount in support of a guaranteed livable income as part of a plan to alleviate the crushing poverty experienced by millions of Canadians.

The Ontario Basic Income Pilot was initiated by Ontario in 2017 in three areas – Hamilton region, Thunder Bay area, and Lindsay. Nearly 2,000 people were on basic income in Lindsay. It was set to run for three years. When the PC government was elected in the summer of 2018, it cancelled the program despite a campaign promise to allow it to continue.

A class action lawsuit launched by four people from Lindsay who were once on the Ontario Basic Income Pilot is moving ahead with a late June, 2020 court date scheduled.

The Globe and Mail recently analyzed new information from Statistics Canada that shows the poverty rate was close to 25 per cent for single people in 2018, even though the poverty rate has declined for many families, thanks to the more generous Canada Child Benefit.

“Investing in a basic income commitment for all Canadians is not only affordable, but would reduce cost pressures in our healthcare, education and prison system by reducing the pathologies of poverty that haunt the social and economic infrastructure of Canada,” says former Senator Hugh Segal, a leading advocate of basic income in Canada.

In a press release, Pate notes that “with the fiftieth anniversary of the Croll Report approaching, we owe it to the millions of Canadians still waiting for equality to continue building on this vital work.”

“It is time to act to prevent human suffering before it happens, to give people a leg up and out of poverty, and to create more equal, vibrant, healthier and safer communities.”


  1. Joshua says:

    Basic income is EXACTLY what we need. Especially in Alberta with work being scarce right now. Work in general is too precarious to be fully dependent on it for income. It’s high time we share the wealth of Canada properly, and give all citizens a chance to get on the ladder to success. When you’re mind is devoted to nothing but survival, you just end up in a rut, washed down the river of poverty looking for the next straw to grasp.
    Basic Income gives people security, and the freedom to choose work that suits them.

  2. wayne says:

    I’m all for giving the elderly and disabled a gauranteed income. The problem with these programs is that too many lazy people who simple don’t want to get a job, end up receiving money that someone else deserves. If this program is implemented , I hope there’s a strict screening process to weed out the sponges who constantly have their hands out. (look around Lindsay these days…we all see the ‘sponges’ on a daily basis)

  3. Roderick Benns says:

    Wayne, you miss the point of a basic income. There is no screening process, other than an income cut-off amount.

    A basic income ensures that everyone can meet basic needs and live with dignity, regardless of their work status. It is unconditional income from government sent directly to individuals, providing:
    • financial security;
    • freedom to decide how to best spend
    your own time and money;
    • a foundation for health, well-being and a better life.

    What we don’t see with basic income programs and pilots is evidence that people stop working. Some work more, in fact, and some work differently to better manage employment, education and family responsibilities. We must not let simplistic economic theories or our imaginings get in the way of evidence and human dignity. Basic income programs and pilots do provide evidence of community-wide benefits. In India, a basic income pilot enabled cooperation to make improvements for the entire village and it had especially empowering impacts on women.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.