MP Julie Dzerowicz was joined by basic income advocates Floyd Marinescu of UBI Works and Sheila Regehr at Basic Income Canada Network; and parliamentarians Hon. Wayne Easter, Annie Koutrakis and Senator Kim Pate at a press conference on Feb. 25 to discuss her historic private member's bill C-273 - An Act to enable a national strategy on basic income in Canada. This is the first bill on basic income introduced in Canada. Special guests Hugh Segal and Art Eggleton also joined the event.
Her opening remarks are posted below.
MP Julie Dzerowicz – Bill C-273 Press Conference
Earlier this week, I introduced Bill C-273, An Act to establish a national strategy for a guaranteed basic income.
While this is an idea that has been talked about for a number of years, and there have been motions presented in the House of Commons on this topic, this is the first time a bill has been introduced on a guaranteed basic income in Canada.
This bill is the culmination of many years of work, research by many leaders, advocates and champions – many of which are here with me today. They have been promoting and engaging Canadians in public discourse on this topic for many years.
I am actually going to start off by saying that this private members bill is not about.
It is not to test whether (or not) basic income is a good idea.
There is already strong and substantial existing information that supports the effectiveness of guaranteed basic income but there is much less information on the best ways or models to implement and deliver basic income.
Bill C-273 is focused on enabling the capacity to frame, test and validate different models of implementation to get to those answers and that data.
To be clear if passed, this bill would be focused on how to create basic income.
The bill does not propose what basic income model to use.
But it does provide a framework for enabling implementation pilots across Canada – whose details would be determined through discussion and negotiation between the federal government and interested provinces or territories.
The bill does not put a price tag on guaranteed basic income in Canada or proposed how much it would cost. As a private members bill, I am not able to commit the government to spending money but if this bill passes and it enables an agreement between provinces/territories and the federal government – then the costs would be determined at that point.
It does not propose to eliminate any government assisted income and support programs – in order to … only offer guaranteed basic income as a stand-alone program.
What the implementation model looks like and contains – will be determined by each individual federal / provincial arrangement. It will work with existing programs and indeed over time could replace some programs. I would also hope that the basic principle of “everyone is better off” is adopted, because that is indeed the intention of this PMB.
It does propose the creation of a framework of national standards – so that best practices can be created for the implementation of GBI over time; and it does propose the collection of data to identify the impact in three key areas
Why am I proposing this private members bill? And why now?
Canada’s current social welfare system was created in the 1970s and no matter how many times it is adjusted, still too many Canadians are falling through the cracks.
There are literally hundreds of income and support programs for Canadians delivered by dozens of departments and ministries.
This complexity means that our current service model misses many of the Canadians most in need, focuses too often on applications and auditing Canadians and less so on the actual support they need.
Despite these programs and our deliberate efforts to tackle income equality, it continues to grow. So … maybe its time to review the foundation of our social welfare system and bring it into the 21st century.
Perhaps it’s time to look at a different service model like guaranteed basic income – one that may simplify our social programs while better delivering support.
Another reason for why now is that the world of work is changing faster than ever before. More workers are shifting to the gig economy, there are more temporary and short-term jobs; and many jobs are being eliminated by automation and artificial intelligence (AI).
In addition, disruptions in our economy are happening faster and more frequently – leaving many Canadians working harder, longer, and feeling like its more difficult to get ahead.
All through history, humans have had to adapt and change; and we know how to do this. But we have trouble with the transitions – particularly the negative ones, one of which we are going through right now!
Our social safety net is not well designed to help Canadians through transitions; so, we need a new model – one that does …and one that provides stability to the middle class, to those trapped in the cycle of poverty and to those in danger of falling into poverty.
If someone is struggling to stay above water and has to make decisions about how to survive – one cannot be innovative … cannot take risks, like starting a business, retraining, upskilling.
We need a social welfare system that is more responsive, less complex, more flexible and is better at managing labour changes, disruptions and transitions – a basic income program can offer that.
And what better time than now.
We are about to invest $70-$100 billion to restart our economy, now is the time to experiment and test new ideas; to fix structural issues and to build our economic and social structures back better!
Finally, I see guaranteed basic income as a cornerstone of Canada’s innovation and economic growth strategy.
Equal opportunity for everyone to succeed – is one of my fundamental values and is at heart of Bill C-273. Only by ensuring we have a system that properly supports Canadians, that provides true stability … and removes all obstacles to the access to opportunity will we enable Canadians and Canada itself to achieve its potential.