A new bill was introduced that, if passed, would be a major step toward implementing guaranteed basic income in Canada — a set amount of money every citizen would be entitled to and cover the basic costs of living.
Bill C-273, a Liberal private member's bill that had its first reading on February 22, would require the minister of finance to develop a national strategy to assess possible models for implementing a guaranteed basic income program.
The bill also aims to establish a pilot project in one or more provinces to test models of guaranteed basic income, evaluating the costs, efficiency and effects this sort of program would have on Canadians' society and well-being.
During the 2018 provincial election, Québec solidaire (QS) leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois vowed to establish a guaranteed basic income program in Quebec if QS won the election — but the latter never came to fruition.
There are also groups like Revenu de base Québec advocating for basic income in the province and in the country.
Basic income program could 'lift many Canadians out of poverty'
The bill's preamble gives us insight into the reasoning behind the bill. It focuses on Canadians' rights to "have their basic needs met, to participate fully in society and to live with dignity" regardless of their employment status.
It also says the Government of Canada wants to support 21st-century workforces by being prepared for disruptions, such as a sudden pandemic.
The bill outlines several possible positive effects of a guaranteed basic income in Canada.
It states that the program could "enhance the economy’s ability to grow and improve its productivity" as well as "lift many Canadians out of poverty and provide them with the stability they need to access education and employment opportunities."
A report outlining the national strategy for a guaranteed basic income program would need to be completed within two years from the day the bill comes into force.