BC Legislature
(File photo)

BC’s provincial government is looking into the plausibility of implementing a basic income program as a safety net for low-income residents.

A committee led by three researchers – David Green, Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Jonathan Rhys Kesselman, School of Public Policy at Simon Fraser University, and Lindsay Tedds, School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary – will be overseeing a study into the feasibility of a guaranteed basic income pilot program in British Columbia.

The research will also look into the impact of technological advancements in shifting labour force dynamics, and investigate how basic income principles can be applied to the improvement of existing social support structures.

“The researchers will look at whether a basic income is a viable option to reduce poverty, build financial security, and increase inclusion and well-being,” stated Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.

“This is a complex area of study, and our government looks forward to learning more about how to enhance the income-support system, to achieve measurable and lasting improvements for people living in poverty.”

What is basic income?

Guaranteed basic income is a form of social security in which the citizens of a certain community (or province or country) receive a predetermined sum of money from the government on a regular basis.

In 2016, Ontario became the first province to implement a guaranteed monthly basic income pilot program, for a trial period of three years. Their archetype follows a tax credit model in which a single person receives up to $16,989 per year (less 50% of any earned income), and a couple receives up to $24,027 per year (less 50% of any earned income).

From the preliminary results generated from Ontario’s model, Canada’s Parliamentary Budge Office released a report stating that a basic income model for Canada as a whole would cost the federal government $44 billion a year.

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