Canadian province votes to trial Universal Basic Income

WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

  • As technology automates more jobs governments around the world are trialling UBI as a means to potentially mitigate social unrest and increasingly inequality


 

In the face of growing automation which many governments and analysts believe will lead to a rapid rise in global unemployment levels a Canadian province has unanimously voted in favour of trialling a Universal Basic Income (UBI), a form of social security where all the citizens of a given state or country are guaranteed to regularly receive a sum of money in addition to the money they earn elsewhere.

 

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As a concept UBI is naturally controversial which is why most governments, such as Finland, Holland, Japan, Scotland, the UK and USA are taking baby steps and voting on whether or not to run limited trials.

Prince Edward Island, the smallest Canadian Province, has been described as the best choice for the pilot due to its diminutive size and clear boundaries.

According to the successful bill, every citizen will receive a basic income in an attempt to reduce or “potentially eliminate poverty in the province”.

Green Party leader in Prince Edward’s legislature, Peter Bevan Baker, proposed the motion with support of all three other parties.

“A universal basic income could enable the greatest unleashing of human potential ever seen” said Bevan Baker.

The bill stated positive effects of UBI could include improved local economic growth, supporting entrepreneurship, reduced administrative complexity and costs, improved working conditions, reduced crime, improved health, and help to build vibrant rural communities.”

 

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The Green Party leader has admitted there are potential drawbacks to UBI such as the overall the cost of the scheme and whether it will deter unemployed people looking for work.

“This is exactly why we need a pilot project, so we can evaluate whether the benefits outweigh the costs,” he said.

The national Canadian government will use the pilot to weigh up the benefits against the heavy costs and will lay out their plans in detail early next year.

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