Yesterday the Government of British Columbia received the answer to the question it posed in 2018: should we run a basic income pilot, or is there a better way to cover all the basics?
The short answer is: don't do a basic income pilot.
People who are struggling to get by struggle for very different reasons. Stabilizing lives means different supports are required to meet various needs.
Yes, of course more money in hand makes a difference; but much more is needed, particularly if you are someone living with disabilities; fleeing domestic violence; lacking labour protections; struggling with low income in high-rent communities; or a youth transitioning out of care.
Basic income is no magic bullet, the report found.
A one-size-fits-all cheque, as appealingly simple as it seems, will not stop people from falling through the cracks.
And pilots – which by design never reach the whole population – mostly end without becoming permanent, with systemic inequities intact, based on experiences in Canada and around the world thus far.
As Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
If the goal is a more just society, there are 65 recommendations for any government's consideration to improve what exists, strengthen the basics, not limited to BC and not just in BC. This may well become the blueprint for anyone seeking to build on evidence-based, best-practice driven ideas.
Over the past decade the world has seen even the most mainstream establishments call for more inclusive growth and less inequality. This is a response that offers a balance between income and service supports, and better protections for workers.
And that's how we will build a more just society and boost the economy, from the foundation first, from the bottom up.
The Atkinson Fellow on the Future of Workers is supported by the Atkinson Foundation. Find more information here.