New book makes case for Canadian basic income program

October 5, 2018

Ontario's short-lived experiment may have met its end, but the author of a new book on basic income says it hasn't shaken her confidence that the program will one day catch on, on a larger scale. 

Evelyn Forget, an economist at the University of Manitoba, said the cancellation of basic income in Ontario was a disappointment that sparked outrageamong researchers around the world. But it may also have a silver lining.

"I think the cancellation itself probably introduced the idea of basic income to more people than knew about it before it began," she said. 

"I'm wondering if maybe now this is opening the door for a broader public conversation about basic income and the need for a basic income in Canada." Forget's new book, Basic Income for Canadians: The key to a healthier, happier, more secure life for all, makes a case for just that, arguing that in the face of an increasingly insecure job market, Canada's current social programs are failing, and that basic income could improve the lives of many. 

Forget is a health economist, and her interest in basic income, which she has been studying for more than a decade, was originally sparked by what she saw first-hand, she said. 

"I actually have my office in the health sciences centre in Winnipeg, which is right in downtown Winnipeg, and it's a fairly challenged part of the city." 

"You don't really have to spend a lot of time walking through the halls of an urban hospital to realize that a lot of your health care dollars are going to treat the consequences of poverty."

That's what prompted her to start digging up data from a 1970s experiment with basic income in Manitoba, known as "mincome." 

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