Julie Dzerowicz
Julie Dzerowicz
Member of Parliament for Davenport
C-273: Frequently Asked Questions

What is basic income?

Why is it needed? Why now?

Who supports basic income?

Does basic income disincentivize work?

Would basic income lead to lower wages?

What is Bill C-273?

We want action, not more pilots! Isn’t Bill C-273 just more talk instead of a plan to actually implement basic income?

What's a private member's bill?

How much will basic income in Canada cost?

What's the difference between a motion and a private member’s bill?

Why not specify a detailed basic income design?

You don’t say universal – why?

How much do you propose – as the basic income amount?

Would this get rid of my existing benefits?

What about the B.C. Report that says Basic Income wouldn't work?

What is basic income?

A basic income guarantees a minimum level of income adequate to live a modest life with dignity. The form of basic income under discussion in Canada is income tested, so that only  people who need support receive it. It is intended to enhance and streamline cash transfers from government to people, but it does not replace necessary public services such as healthcare or public education.

Why is it needed? Why now?

There are still far too many Canadians who fall through the cracks. Our current social system was designed in the 1970s, and no matter how many times we put on band-aids, there are those who receive insufficient support and live in poverty.  

Work is also changing—there are far more in the gig economy, short term contracts, and far more jobs being lost to AI and automation. The current system does not support workers that are currently in transition.

For Canada to be economically successful we need a social welfare system that provide the stability Canadians need in order to take risks and be their best selves. Only when individual Canadians can all reach their potential will we unlock our full potential as a nation.

Who supports basic income?

Basic income was first proposed in Canada in David Kroll’s senate report Poverty in Canada in 1971—50 years ago. Over the last few decades, there has been leadership right across the political spectrum, with representatives of every party who have championed some form of basic income for Canada.

Bill C-273 is the first bill on basic income to be introduced in the House of Commons in Canada’s history, but there have been pilot projects run by provincial governments in Manitoba and Ontario, a report recently commissioned by the government of B.C., and a House of Commons motion introduced earlier this year by Leah Gazan, an NDP MP.  

Basic income is supported by millions of individual Canadians, and by many different stakeholders across Canada, including the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, several faith groups, labour organizations such as the Steelworkers Union, academics, disability advocates, poverty advocates, artists and more.

Does basic income disincentivize work?

In all the pilot programs, research reports, and data gathered to date there is no evidence whatsoever that basic income disincentivizes work. If anything, we see the opposite: people training, upskilling, going back to school, and looking for better jobs to improve circumstances for themselves and their families.

It might even bring more people back into the workforce, because it would bring marginalized people back from the edges of society and give them a better chance to find a job.

Bill C-273 would help governments across Canada test basic income through pilot programs, and gather more evidence on this question. 

Would basic income lead to lower wages?

There is no credible evidence that basic income would lead to lower wages. In fact, it would likely lead to economic growth, with greater workforce participation.

Bill C-273 would help governments across Canada test basic income through pilot programs, and gather more evidence on this question. 

What is Bill C-273?

Bill C-273 is a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Julie Dzerowicz, the Member of Parliament for Davenport. The objective of the bill is to provide an enabling framework for provincial, territorial, and Indigenous governments to negotiate with the federal government to engage in pilot projects on basic income. The details of the pilot programs would be worked out as part of the national strategy.

Private Member’s Bills are introduced by individual MPs, not cabinet ministers on behalf of the government, and they cannot spend money on behalf of the government.

If passed, Bill C-273 would require the Minister of Finance to develop a national strategy to assess implementation models for a guaranteed basic income program as part of Canada’s innovation and economic growth strategy. The Minister would also have to report on the strategy.

The strategy would need to be developed in consultation with the Employment Minister, the provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous leaders, stakeholders, labour organizations, and experts on basic income.

We want action, not more pilots! Isn’t Bill C-273 just more talk instead of a plan to actually implement basic income?

Bill C-273 is not a test of whether or not basic income is a good idea—there is already strong and substantial data from both Canadian and international sources that support basic income on a number of different levels. However, there is much less information on the best ways to implement and deliver basic income, such as whether payments should be monthly or quarterly, how people would report their incomes, and how quickly support levels should be adjusted to changing circumstances.

Pilot programs would allow provinces, territories, and Indigenous governments the chance to adjust to their local circumstances, and give us the information we need to execute a strategy at the national level.

What's a private member's bill?

A private member’s bill is a bill that is introduced by a member of parliament who is not a Minister. Unlike a Government Bill, introduced by a Cabinet Minister on behalf of the government, a private member’s bill is not allowed to spend money. But, like any other bill, if passed it becomes law.

Bill C-273 has the support of major basic income advocates many MPs.  If there is enough support, the bill will pass second reading and move into committee for study and for the consideration of any changes.  Once that is complete it returns to the House for a final vote.

How much will basic income in Canada cost?

Because Bill C-273 is a private member’s bill, it cannot spend any money or dictate a cost for a basic income. A private member’s bill is introduced by an individual member of parliament, instead of a cabinet minister acting on behalf of the government.

Instead, Bill C-273 would require the federal government to negotiate pilot programs with provincial, territorial, and Indigenous governments. How much it would cost, and all other parameters, would be determined as part of the negotiation between the federal government and the provincial or territorial government. 

Among other things, the pilot program(s) would help gather data about the effects of different models of basic income, all of which would have different costs and benefits.

What's the difference between a motion and a private member’s bill?

A private member’s bill is a bill that is introduced by a member of parliament who is not a minister. Unlike a Government Bill, introduced by a cabinet minister on behalf of the government, a private member’s bill is not allowed to spend money. But, like any other bill, if passed it becomes law.

A motion is presented by a member of parliament and is a draft resolution which, if adopted, becomes an expression of the opinion of the House.

Should M-46 passed in the House of Common, for example, it would be a strong indication of support for basic income, but it would not create a basic income program—legislation would be required for that.

Why not specify a detailed basic income design?

Bill C-273 gives flexibility to provincial, territorial, and Indigenous governments to determine how basic income might best meet their unique circumstances.

There is already strong data from both Canadian and international sources that support basic income on a number of different levels.

These pilot programs would allow us to make informed decisions about the best way to move forward on implementation at the national level.

You don’t say universal – why?

Universal basic income is one suggested model—a set amount that every single citizen received regardless of any other status. Bill C-273 does not dictate a basic income model—instead it gives the federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous governments the chance to pilot different models and compare the results. Most of the conversation surrounding basic income in Canada suggests an income-tested guaranteed income.

How much do you propose – as the basic income amount?

The specific parameters of each basic income pilot would be determined by the federal government and the provincial, territorial, or Indigenous government. The results of these different pilots would give us the information we need to move forward with a specific plan to implement basic income at the national level. 

Would this get rid of my existing benefits?

No. If passed, Bill C-273 is designed to work alongside existing support programs.

The specific framework for each basic income pilot would be determined by the federal government in collaboration with each provincial, territorial, or Indigenous government.

What about the B.C. Report that says Basic Income wouldn't work?

The B.C. Report recommended a basic income for people with disabilities and people aging out of the foster care system, but stopped short of recommending a basic income for everyone in BC. However, it is important to remember that this was a provincial report, and constrained by the existing programs, resources and mandates of BC. It does not address the feasibility of a national basic income with federal financial support.

It also clearly articulates that in B.C. today, 194 programs are being administered by over 20 ministries and departments from three levels of government, highlighting the complexity of the existing social welfare system in B.C. It further articulates that even with all those programs, still too many people are falling through the cracks without being able to access any of the programs, and income inequality and poverty rates remain high.

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