The idea of an emergency basic income during COVID-19 is gaining momentum across Canada.

Today, Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the New Democratic Party, joined a long list of people calling for a universal basic income to assist Canadians during the coronavirus pandemic.

Even conservatives are championing the policy idea. Ken Boessenkool, a former senior advisor to Stephen Harper has been advocating strongly for a crisis basic income.  “While it pains me as a conservative to suggest this,” he writes “the government should consider adding another $27-billion dollar expenditure for a Crisis Basic Income.”

Bob Rae, the former leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, has also expressed his support for a universal basic income (UBI). The Green Party of Canada – which has long been an advocate of UBI- is also calling for immediate implementation.

It’s not only public figures either. Many experts and academics have also suggested that a UBI be implemented. Dr. Evelyn Forget, a health economist, and professor at the University of Manitoba argues that a basic income is more effective than our existing social programs like Employment Insurance.  Her research has shown some of the many benefits of UBI and debunked some of the myths – for instance, the idea that it removes the incentive to work – associated with it.

A group of academics at Saskatchewan’s Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy have also released a report suggesting a basic income as the most equitable policy response to COVID19.

Canada is not alone either. The buzz around basic income has spread around the globe. Over 500 academics and public figures have signed a letter calling on governments to enact a universal basic income in the battle against the coronavirus. Among them are several Canadian professors as well as a Canadian senator.


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