With the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program introduced to help people who lost their jobs due to COVID-19, a lot of people started to talk about whether Canada would need such a program if there was already a Universal Basic Income in place for people getting exactly into that situation.
Radio Waterloo recently published a story on Kitchener council’s initiative to urge the provincial and federal government to start talking about universal basic income (https://radiowaterloo.ca/ckms-news-2020-06-04/). In that story we aired a short excerpt from the interview with Hugh Segal, former senator who designed the Ontario Basic Income Pilot Project and who recently published a book called Bootstraps Need Boots, One Tory’s Lonely Fight to End Poverty in Canada.
Now we’re airing the entire interview with Mr. Segal explaining the thought process behind the Pilot, the benefits of universal basic income, and why he feels lonely in his fight to end poverty in this country.
On May 11 Kitchener city council endorsed a motion, proposed by councillor Bil Ioannidis, urging the provincial and federal government to start talking about universal basic income. The proposal passed with 8 to 3 which means it’s now an official document of the city of Kitchener.
Universal Basic Income in Canada has been periodically piloted since the 1960’s and the last attempt with it was in 2018, with The Ontario Basic Income Pilot during the provincial government of Kathleen Wynne.
The goal was to test whether UBI is a better way of providing social assistance to those who need it, and four thousand people from Brantford, Thunder Bay, Lindsay and Hamilton volunteered to participate in the pilot.
It didn’t end well.
In this episode, we talk with councillor Bil Ioannidis, who proposed the motion, Jessie Golem and Jodi Dean, UBI pilot participants from Hamilton, and Hugh Segal, a conservative political strategist, former senator, former Chief of Staff to Ontario Premier Bill Davis and later to Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney who designed the pilot.