ABOUT
BASIC
INCOME
CALGARY

Who we are

Basic Income Calgary is an action group of the Basic Income Canada Network and an Enough for All stakeholder. Basic Income Calgary’s goals align with Enough for All, Calgary’s poverty reduction strategy, and the growing national movement for a basic income guarantee.

We believe in and support the creation of a basic income guarantee program that would create a regular, predictable income, universally and unconditionally available to all who need it, and sufficient to provide for a decent life style and enable full participation in the community.

Basic Income Calgary Steering Committee members include: Engineers without borders, Social 5 Workers for Social Justice, Disability Action Hall, Human Elements Canada Ltd, We’re together Ending Poverty, Women’s Centre of Calgary, Action Dignity, Vibrant Communities Calgary, and community volunteers.

What we

believe

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights… Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

— United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, Articles 01 and 02

Why a Basic Income Guarantee?

The United Nations Human Rights Declaration and Sustainable Development Goals establish a framework of critical importance for global action of which the primary objective is “to ensure that all human beings can fulfill their potential in dignity and equality and a healthy environment.”

​This means that every Canadian has a right to live in dignity, with adequate means to achieve physical, mental and social well-being. Poverty rates have not changed significantly in the past 25 years. Today, neither work nor the existing social safety net ensures that all people have enough income to meet their basic needs. Employment is increasingly insecure, while our welfare programs are complex, intrusive and inadequate.

​A Basic Income Guarantee program will reduce poverty and income inequality. Forms of basic income in Canada have already changed lives profoundly for the better, but only for some. Now we need to create a basic income guarantee for all, free of stigma and oversight. Basic income is key to creating a future that offers security and dignity for all, while ensuring a fairer distribution of work, wealth, income and participation in society.

1

Be universal: A basic income is available to everyone and received by those who fall below a certain income, with no behavioural eligibility criteria.

CLARIFICATIONS

A BIG is unconditional in that one does not need to pass a test to receive it, and is delivered on a regular basis (monthly). It is expected that BIG would be tax-based and income-geared — i.e., an individual with no other income would receive the full amount of the benefit/guarantee, and the benefit would be phased out as income increases.

​Several issues would need to be considered and addressed by program design:

  • Eligibility for payments in relation to residency status in Canada, as well as to circumstances such as incarceration;
  • Earned income should not be clawed back at a 100% ratio, but at a rate that ensures that debilitating disincentives to work or progress are removed;
  • Administration will need to be flexible and responsive to changes in individual circumstances that would affect the level of payment; and
  • Further discussions regarding calculation of payment levels will be necessary, particularly concerning the treatment of assets.

Finally, the design would include a consideration of the jurisdictional issues faced by Indigenous Canadians, both on and off reserves, when trying to access income and non-income supports

2

Be Adequate: A basic income should be set a level that provides for a decent life style and enables full participation in the community.

CLARIFICATIONS

​Everyone deserves a decent life. The BIG should allow all to live with dignity and better achieve their potential. The intent is that BIG is more than the bare minimum, and provides for more than survival. The BIG will at least provide for adequate food, housing, transportation and internet/communication services, and will support physical and mental well-being. As a result of the program, recipients should also be able to live with significantly reduced financial stress. To ensure continued adequacy and keep up with the cost of living, the benefits should be indexed to inflation.

3

Be Individual: The entitlement to and payment of a BIG should be on an individual basis, although the level of payment may be calculated based on household income and family size.

CLARIFICATIONS

The BIG can be used at one’s discretion. Because of the existing income supports for seniors (OAS/GIS) and children, the current focus would be on individuals aged 18 to 65.

4

Be a Complementary Part of a Broad Social Support System.

CLARIFICATIONS

​Individuals must continue to receive the support services they need. These include, but are not limited to, affordable housing, child care, dental care, prescriptions, and programs that help address health and well-being. Basic income should not replace existing social supports and programs, nor preclude governments from improving upon or investing in them. In addition, it should not in any way serve as justification for encroachments to existing labour rights and regulations, including existing commitments to minimum wage increases.

5

Not Impact Current Recipients of Income Support Programs Negatively.

CLARIFICATIONS

​The BIG should have a positive overall impact on poverty and on those more likely to experience poverty. The net income of those receiving a basic income will not be reduced (where basic income replaces social assistance payments).