Book Launch: Guaranteed Livable Income – The Case for Basic Income


Presenting the new book, “The Case for Basic Income: Freedom, Security, Justice” by Jamie Swift and Elaine Power

Joe Gunn, Executive Director of Centre Oblat – A Voice for Justice, will interview renowned authors Jamie Swift and Elaine Power on a radical proposal for a post-pandemic world: that wealth should be built by a society, not individuals. And that we all have an unconditional right to a fair share.

“Swift and Power focus on how the Ontario pilot made a real change in the lives of those who participated. Using the words of participants, they tell a story of hope.”

Canadians are caught in the grip of – stagnant wages, a climate crisis, the steady creep of automation.  Canadians now badly need – A Guaranteed Livable, Obligation-free Basic Income.


Date:October 21Time:7:00 pm – 8:30 pm




Guaranteed Livable Income Ottawa


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3rd Annual Basic Income March (BIM)

The 3rd Annual Basic Income March (BIM) is coming up on September 25th. Events are planned in NYC, DC, LA, Atlanta, Omaha, Dallas, Las Vegas, Mt. View, Portland, Chicago, and more.

We would love your help getting the word out about this important global event. And, of course, we hope to see you at an event in your community.   

Here are some quick ways to promote the Basic Income March: 

If you’re on Twitter, here’s something to retweet:

If you’re on Instagram, here’s a quick post to share:

Want to create a post yourself, or put something on a different SM channel? Here’s some post content to help you make it happen:

I’m excited for the Basic Income March! Join 30 cities across the globe on September 25th as we show up for Basic Income. There’s so much to celebrate! RSVP at: @income_movement #BasicIncomeMarch2021

SM toolkit – if you want to have a variety of images and example post content to choose from – our toolkit can help you. 

Send an email to your friends, family, and community members to let them know that they can support this great event. The SM Toolkit  can help you with content. 

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“Basic Income Now” Lawn Signs

We should take the opportunity to meet our candidates and spread the word for a national Basic Income.

I have decided to order some Basic Income Now signs for us to put up on our residences and in public places. I am willing to purchase them for Ottawa and make them available from my home. However, I do not want to be left with a huge bill so, if interested, please let me know if you want a sign or more, and I will order them. The cost will be $10 inclusive. (If there is any $ left over, this will be used for future advertizing.) Apparently, I should be able to get them in a week or less.

There are a couple of interesting points about signs. 

The interesting part about the signs is that they can transcend a political campaign,  federal, provincial or municipal, and  be used as a general communication tool. 

Looking forward to your response.

Joe Foster, BIOttawa

2021 Stratford Basic Income Now lawn signs
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Basic income: the case for incrementalism

By GO4BIG member Joe Foster

When discussing the concept of basic income, those on the front lines, whether living in poverty or helping those who struggle with it on a daily basis, are most often in favour of the “Big Bang” approach—namely, ensuring that all Canadians have a livable income now.

Indeed, a national basic income program should and can be initiated immediately. However, when examining the challenges through a political, economic, and social lens, it becomes clear that an incremental approach is the best, and possibly the only, way to actually achieve a basic income in Canada.

To read more, click here.

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Letter in Support of BIG to Ontario’s Ministry of Community and Social Services and Ministry of Housing

We wrote the following letter to Hon. Helena Jaczek, Minister of Community and Social Services, and Hon. Chris Ballard, Minister of Housing, to indicate our strong support for a Basic Income Guarantee pilot in Ontario.

[Read in PDF]

Dear Minister Jaczek and Minister Ballard,

On behalf of the Group Ottawa for Basic Income Guarantee (GO4BIG) and the Ottawa Poverty Reduction Network (OPRN), we are writing to reiterate our strong support for the Ontario basic income pilot and to convey our feedback to the current consultations. Our support for basic income is informed by overwhelming evidence of the powerful link between income and health, education, workplace participation, community stability and general well-being. People living with a lower income are at far greater risk of preventable medical conditions across their lifespan, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, mental illness and associated health costs, compared with those living with higher incomes. Children are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of growing up in low income, due to its attenuating effect on early childhood development. The experience of childhood poverty often has a negative influence on both health and social outcomes, including reduced educational attainment and a greater risk of involvement with the justice system. Our groups feel strongly that ensuring everyone has an income sufficient to meet basic needs and to live with dignity would be one of the most important initiatives the provincial government could pursue in promoting health, well-being and equity amongst Ontarians.

We would emphasize, however, that basic income is an important form of income security not only for those on OW and ODSP – who are the primary targets of the discussion paper proposal – but also for those who are employed yet still living in poverty, including the precariously employed and those working but unpaid. Accordingly, the pilot methods and results should reflect this range of relevant recipients. This would require that pilot eligibility be based on income level, and not on current receipt of OW or ODSP.

Our Groups believe that a set of principles should guide the design of a basic income program, including the type of basic income to be piloted in Ontario. As groups affiliated with Basic Income Canada Network we desire a principle-based approach consistent with the recommendations of Basic Income Canada Network :

  • the pursuit of equity, both health and social;
  • income security for the 18-64 age group, regardless of employment status;
  • universality, leaving no one behind;
  • non-conditionality other than based on the individual’s income level;
  • dignity, creating a process for receiving basic income that is comparable to other well-accepted income security programs in Canada, such as child and seniors’ benefits
  • autonomy, ensuring that recipients of basic income have the ability to spend money as they see fit to support the well-being of themselves and their family.

Additionally, our group feels that key elements should guide the design of the pilot itself,
consistent with scientifically rigorous social science research methods:

  • designed to produce valid results on key indicators of the chosen outcomes with
    emphasis on health, social and workplace outcomes. This will require an adequate
    benefit level and be of sufficient length and sample size amongst other considerations.
  • designed to produce generalizable results; this will require pilot sites and participants that reflect Ontario’s demographic and geographic diversity, including indigenous communities.
  • designed with input from a Basic Income Pilot Advisory council which would include
    diverse stakeholders and those with lived experience of poverty and precarious
  • implemented and run by a Research Operations Group headed by a competent
    researcher with standing and experience.
  • incorporate a long-term commitment to implementing, evaluating and sharing the
    results of the pilot.

These elements are described more fully in technical submissions by other groups and
agencies, including the Association of Local Public Health Agencies (alPHa) and the Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA). GO4BIG and OPRN emphasize the importance of evaluating the impact of a BI Pilot on workplace outcomes as predictive impact on the precarious labour situation in the broad scale application of the BIG after the Pilot program.

The Hon. Hugh Segal made several key recommendations in his discussion paper, which we support as in keeping with the above principles and elements:

  • much better alignment of income amounts with the cost of living and improved health outcomes, than current Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) rates;
  • replacement of OW and ODSP with basic income;
  • use of the negative income tax model with provision for reporting to reflect major
    changes in circumstances on a monthly basis;
  • testing of two benefit amounts, 100% and 75% of the Low Income Measure, over a
    period of, minimally, three years;
  • testing of a higher and lower tax back rate to earned income;
  • the stipulation that no one be worse off than before the basic income program.

While we see clearly a great deal of promise in a basic income pilot and program, we also
believe that basic income can only have a strong impact on the damaging conditions of poverty and precarious employment if it is part of, and not a replacement for, a comprehensive approach that includes progress on other key policies and programs. This includes affordable high quality child care, affordable housing, expanded health benefits, and labour law reform, amongst others. It is essential that the Province maintain social support services for vulnerable populations which exceed provision of monthly stipends. In the immediate future, we also strongly urge the Province not to delay increasing social assistance rates to sufficient levels to meet the basic needs of all Ontarians in the short-term, while the basic income pilot is in progress.

Thank you for this opportunity to comment, and for your ongoing and internationally recognized leadership on this pivotal social transformational matter.

Yours Sincerely,

Clarke Topp
Chair, GO4BIG

Linda Lalonde
Chair, OPRN

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Basic Income: Interview with Guy Standing on CBC’s The Current

As Ontario considers the benefits of basic minimum income, CBC’s The Current recently interviewed Guy Standing, founder of the Basic Income Earth Network. 

Mr. Standing makes a strong case for the basic income policy, which has been gaining momentum that include the two-year pilot project launched last week by Finland.

Listen to the interview, or read a transcription via CBC.


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Event Recap: Ottawa Public Consultation on a Basic Income Pilot for Ontario

“A basic income is not a panacea, nor does it displace other policies that work. But it could very well be a key that unlocks multiple possibilities, allowing a range of policies and services to be more mutually supportive, fostering social solidarity and democracy, unleashing creativity and smoothing transitions.” — Sheila Regehr, October 17, 2016

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Three eminent panelists led a discussion on the proposal for a basic income guarantee and Ontario’s coming pilot project. The need to re-think the concept of work and the unsustainability of the current system of income assistance were some of the themes discussed.


On October 17, 2016, United Nations Day for the Eradication of Poverty, some 75 people gathered at the Bronson Centre in Ottawa to learn about and discuss the proposal for a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG). The meeting was MC’d by Adrian Harewood, local CBC TV news anchor. The panel consisted of Sheila Regehr, chairperson of the Basic Income Canada Network (BICN); Linda Lalonde, co-chair of the Ottawa Poverty Reduction Network and member of GO4BIG; and Paul Vallée, founder, chair and CEO of Pythian IT Consulting and member of the Board of BICN.

img_1627-1After explaining the BICN’s role, Sheila covered the basics of a BIG, and why we need one, asserting that a social transformation, a paradigm shift, is urgent with regard to income security and social assistance. Two aspects stand in the way of achieving this transformation: (1) some proponents’ claim that a BIG would replace all social services, countered by others who feel more services are needed — neither are true; and (2) the fear that a BIG would be a work disincentive — there is no evidence for that but we need to enlarge the concept of work to include all that needs to be done to sustain a healthy society and economy. On the Ontario pilot, Sheila urged the audience to make the best of it and recommended reading Evelyn Forget’s recent paper, Pilot Lessons (Mowat Research #126, September 2016).

img_1632-1Linda confirmed that Ontario’s social assistance programs do not cover basic living expenses. She discussed some aspects of an Ontario pilot and of basic income generally, pointing out that a BIG would be accessed only by those who need it. Whatever program is decided upon, it must be safeguarded against future changes in government. In closing, she noted that 2016 is the 500th anniversary of Sir Thomas More’s Utopia!

Paul spoke from life experience to assert that a BIG could lead to an explosion inimg_1636-1entrepreneurship, both economic and social. He noted that an appetite for risk concentrates wealth. He foresees an acceleration of technological unemployment, reaching a turning point within the next ten years. Will we evolve deliberately to a post-scarcity society, or will we succumb to a dystopia, with ever-increasing inequality? The choice is ours.

A good number of questions and comments followed. One theme was whether a BIG would let employers off the hook, reducing the incentive to offer fair wages. Would there be downward pressure on wages? Paul responded that, on the contrary, wages will increase because some workers will opt out of being a low-wage earner. He referred to a recent book by Andy Stern, Raising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income Can Renew Our Economy and Rebuild the American Dream (2016). A BIG would increase people’s economic freedom and increase their bargaining power.

Another theme was about the nature of work and whether people would continue to find meaning in work. Sheila replied that basic income will always be just basic. People are hard-wired to engage with others. Many tasks are worthwhile and motivating. There would be more time for community engagement.

How can we convince the naysayers? Some will never be convinced but there is solid evidence (much of it available on the the BICN website) about the positive effect on health, food security, equality, dignity and more. Personal stories are helpful. Honest debate and willingness to compromise are essential. (Former President Nixon’s proposal for a BIG was defeated by the American left).

Can we afford a BIG? Some engage in scare-mongering about the cost, citing nonsensical figures like $400 billion. One calculation puts the cost of poverty in Ontario at $32 -38 billion a year. A BIG would result in savings in health care, crime protection and more. Higher wages will generate more tax revenue. Reference was made to the work of Michael Marmot on the relation between health status and inequality and of Guy Standing on precarious employment and the costly failure points of the current system. What we cannot afford is to continue with the present system!

In conclusion, audience members were encouraged to keep an eye on the coming consultations about Ontario’s pilot proposal via Facebook or the websites of BICN or GO4BIG.

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Save the Date, October 17: Public Consultation on a Basic Income Pilot for Ontario


Ontario’s Ministry of Community and Social Services is currently consulting Ontarians in preparation for the introduction of a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) pilot in 2017.

On Oct 17, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, please join the Group Ottawa for a Basic Income Guarantee to learn more about the issue and share your thoughts.

WHEN: October 17, 2016 from 7pm to 9pm

WHERE: The Bronson Centre, 211 Bronson Ave, Ottawa, ON K1R 6H5


Moderated by Adrian Harewood

Basic Income Concept & Background
Sheila Regehr – Chair, Basic Income Canada Network

Impact on Health
Health Expert TBA

Impact on the Low-Income Community
Linda Lalonde – Anti-Poverty Advocate

Impact of Technology
Paul Vallée – CEO, Pythian IT Consulting

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Wolf Hall Debates: Basic Income Guarantee

This debate – held in London, Ontario, Canada, on April 18, 2016, at the Wolf Performance Hall – focused on Basic Income Guarantee.

Wolf Hall Debates: Basic Income Guarantee from James Shelley on Vimeo.

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A Basic Income Guarantee For All: Octopus Books, Feb 9, 2016


7 PMTuesday, Feb 9 2016
Octopus Books Centretown
251 Bank St. 2nd floor
Ottawa, ON
Fee: $10 or pay what you can
Please see registration details below
Facebook Event Page:
This event is sponsored by Solidarity Against Austerity (SAA).


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