Basic Income thoughts on a Saturday Morning

On why a Basic Income isn’t actually a basic income…

Basic income programs do not ensure people have a set income each month that allows them to cover the basics (rent, food, bills). Here’s why:

  • The Ontario Basic income pilot required persons with disabilities (PWDs) that were receiving a number of supports for assistive devices, guide dog expenses, etc. to give up those supports to collect a basic income. This was a bad trade-off for many PWDs, so having a basic income rather than needs-based supports can harm many, so many PWDs rejected the program. Fortunately, being a pilot, they were able to do so, but if the change were ever made permanent, many of our most vulnerable would be irreparably harmed. Ontarians saw this first hand with the Doug Ford Ontario Autism Program, which eliminated needs-based programs and replaced them with a quasi-Basic Income for families with children on the spectrum.
  • Of course, the Ontario Basic Income pilot was just a pilot, so a real-world implementation could be different, though many (though not all) Canadian Basic Income plans involve financing a Basic Income, in part, through removing badly needed supports for persons with disabilities. The PBO report is one such example, but there are many more.
  • Finally, we can look at real-world programs. The Alaska Permanent Fund is often cited by Basic Income advocates as a real-world example of the benefits of a Basic Income. A recent Vox piece illustrates recent cuts that took place, including a $130 million cut to Medicaid, in order to raise the size of the cheques.

What’s the alternative?

So what are better solutions?



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Mike Moffatt

Mike Moffatt

Senior Director, Smart Prosperity. Assistant Prof, Ivey Business School. Exhausted but happy Dad of 2 wonderful kids with autism. I used to do other stuff.