The Basic Income Project Has Been Cancelled In Canada
The concept of basic income has circulated among officials and activists for over a century.
The idea is that if governments cancel their various social welfare programs in favour of cash handouts to every citizen, then not only will people to cover basic expenses like food and rent, but that the economy will boom as people have more spending power.
Canada, a bastion of progressive politics, has been on the cutting edge of basic income in recent years.
Pilot projects across the country have begun to test the feasibility and true benefits of such a policy.
The largest of which in Ontario began under the Wynne government. Four thousand people across the country received payments from the government, no questions asked. Activists and left-wing politicians praised the project as the harbinger of a more equitable society.
Those hopes, however, have been dashed.
The new conservative government in Ontario under Doug Ford has suddenly canceled the program, provoking a massive backlash.
Conservative officials claim basic income discourages people from finding jobs. No evidence supports that statement.
But basic income projects across the country are in jeopardy, too.
Quebec has also planned a basic income pilot program. Beginning next year, over eighty thousand people in the province are set to begin receiving payments.
The one thing standing in the way: provincial elections. With the conservative Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) projected to win a majority in the National Assembly in November, Québec's basic income program could meet the same fate as the one in Ontario.
More conservative parties in every province love to thwart lofty social welfare goals.
Last month, British Columbia funded a project to explore the possibility of a similar pilot project in the westernmost province. Whether the government there will actually implement basic income remains to be seen. Though the precarious status of projects in other provinces are not a good indicator.
In June, a proposal to bring a basic income pilot project to Prince Edward Island also failed. Officials cited a lack of federal support despite huge public enthusiasm.
In other provinces (save Manitoba, which tested basic income over forty years ago but has not considered it since), basic income has yet to gain traction. But activists groups continue to push for more discussion and to destigmatize social programs.
Meanwhile in the United States, though socialism is becoming less of a taboo word thanks to Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, right-wing media and politicians continue to fear and bash economic equity.