What is BIG?

A basic income guarantee (BIG) ensures everyone an income sufficient to meet basic needs and live with dignity, regardless of work status. (BICN)

A basic income is guaranteed by the Government for everyone regardless of whether or not they’re working or seeking work. Like universal health care, it is unconditional and available to all who need it.  It would radically reduce homelessness, food insecurity, income insecurity and many other consequences of poverty. It would recognize the value of work that is currently unpaid, allow working Canadians more flexibility, encourage entrepreneurship and creativity, and provide a hassle-free, non-stigmatizing income security system that is superior to and less expensive to administer than welfare. By virtually eliminating poverty over time, provision of a basic income is predicted to save twice the cost of poverty by reducing the costs of health care, the justice system, remedial education, and addiction and mental health care.

Why do we need it?

  • Poverty is a pressing Canadian issue
    • Currently, 4.9 million Canadians live in poverty (nearly 1 in every 7 people)
    • Poverty is an expensive problem, costing Canada between 72 and 84 million dollars every year
    • Poverty fuels many other detrimental social issues, including food insecurity, crime, and poor population health
  • Welfare programs in Canada are inadequate
    • Welfare programs often trap people in poverty by clawing back dollar-for-dollar or benefits from entering the workforce, thus creating disincentives to work
    • Welfare programs devalue their clients by treating them as untrustworthy and meddling in their lives
  • Income insecurity is an accelerating issue
    • Changes in the job market are a contributing force
    • Machines, computers, and the overall rise of automation are replacing human labour
    • Part-time, contract, and low-wage jobs are replacing full-time jobs
    • People working two or even three low wage jobs can’t make ends meet

Basic income is superior to welfare because:

  • It targets the root causes of poverty, thus reducing costs to health care and other social programs
  • It respects people’s privacy and dignity
  • It values people’s ability to know how to use their incomes
  • It supports people doing unpaid work
  • It encourages people to start small businesses and invest in entrepreneurship
  • It injects cash into local economies
  • It is much simpler and cheaper to administer