The B.C. government has checked off another box on the power-sharing agreement between the NDP and the Greens. The province announced on Tuesday a committee of three academics to research and test the feasibility of a basic-income pilot in British Columbia.
“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,” said Social Development and Poverty Reduction Minister Shane Simpson in a statement. “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.”
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A basic income is a program where citizens of a certain community or the entire province would receive a regular sum of money from the government. The theory is the money would be enough to meet a person’s basic needs set at or above the poverty line.
The provincial government has not provided what it would cost to apply a guaranteed basic income across British Columbia. Critics say a guaranteed income gives people who are making the least no incentive to work at all.
University of British Columbia economist David Green will chair the committee that will also include Simon Fraser University Public Policy School professor Jonathan Rhys Kesselman and the University of Calgary Public Policy School professor Lindsay Tedds.
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The committee will kick off work this summer. It will be tasked with looking at how a basic-income could be used to improve the existing income and social-support system. The committee will also consider the impact that advances in technology and automation will have on the province’s workforce.
“Amidst trends like automation, part-time and contract work, the nature of our economy and the jobs within it are rapidly shifting. There is strong evidence that basic income can provide greater income security, while saving costs in other areas,” said Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver in a statement.
“We proposed exploring how basic income could work in B.C., because government should have a plan for the changes on the horizon. The panellists are highly qualified, knowledgeable and creative thinkers. I am excited to work with them on this innovative project.”