Transcript: The Case for Basic Income | May 09, 2019

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and spotted purple tie.

A caption on screen reads "The case for a basic income. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says UNTIL THE PROGRESSIVE
CONSERVATIVES WON THE ONTARIO
ELECTION LAST JUNE, THIS
PROVINCE WAS CONDUCTING AN
HISTORIC EXPERIMENT IN POVERTY
REDUCTION.
THREE CITIES... HAMILTON,
THUNDER BAY, AND LINDSAY... WERE
OFFERING ELIGIBLE CITIZENS A
BASIC, GUARANTEED, ANNUAL
INCOME.
THE IDEA WAS TO CHECK ON HOW THE
PARTICIPANTS' LIVES CHANGED
AFTER THREE YEARS, THEN DECIDE
WHETHER TO TAKE THE BASIC INCOME
PLAN PROVINCE WIDE.
HOWEVER, DESPITE PLEDGING NOT TO
CANCEL THE PROGRAM DURING THE
ELECTION CAMPAIGN, THE FORD
GOVERNMENT DID JUST THAT AFTER
TAKING POWER.
WHAT WAS LOST?
LET'S FIND OUT FROM EVELYN
FORGET, WHO'S SPENT FOUR DECADES
RESEARCHING THIS SUBJECT, MUCH
OF WHICH IS CAPTURED IN HER NEW
BOOK "BASIC INCOME FOR
CANADIANS: THE KEY TO A
HEALTHIER, HAPPIER, MORE SECURE
LIFE FOR ALL."

Evelyn is in her late fifties, with brown hair in a short bob. She's wearing glasses, a gray blazer and a black blouse.
A picture of her book appears briefly on screen. The cover features an image of a map of Canada made of people standing on a white surface.

Steve continues AND WE WELCOME EVELYN FORGET BACK TO TVO.
SO NICE TO FINALLY MEET YOU.

Evelyn says VERY NICE TO MEET YOU.

Steve says YOU'VE BEEN ON THIS
PROGRAM BEFORE, BUT ONLY BY
SATELLITE, SO WE'VE NEVER
ACTUALLY MET.

Evelyn says THAT'S RIGHT.
IT'S NICE TO SEE YOU IN PERSON.

Steve says WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION
TO THE NEW GOVERNMENT'S
CANCELLING THE BASIC INCOME
PILOT THAT THE PREVIOUS
GOVERNMENT HAD PUT IN PLAYS?

The caption changes to "Evelyn Forget. Author, 'Basic income for Canadians.'"
Then, it changes again to "The pilot program is cancelled."

Evelyn says WELL, I WAS DISAPPOINTED.
I THINK THAT WE WERE EXPECTING
SOME INTERESTING RESULTS TO COME
OUT OF THE ONTARIO PILOT.
I CAN'T SAY I WAS TERRIBLY
SURPRISED.

Steve says WHY NOT?

Evelyn says WE DID HAVE AN EARLIER
EXPERIMENT IN CANADA THAT RAN IN
THE MID-'70S.
THAT PROJECT WASN'T ENDED EARLY,
BUT A CHANGE OF GOVERNMENT MEANT
THAT THE DATA WAS LOGGED AWAY
FOR ABOUT 30 YEARS BEFORE THE
ANALYSIS WAS COMPLETE.

Steve says AND THAT WAS ALSO A
PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE
GOVERNMENT TAKING OVER IN THAT
CASE FROM AN NDP GOVERNMENT.

Evelyn says IT WAS.

Steve says THE INFORMATION, AS
YOU POINT OUT, WAS LOCKED AWAY
IN BOXES FOR MANY YEARS, AND
THEN 40 YEARS AGO YOU GOT YOUR
HANDS ON?

Evelyn says NO, THE EXPERIMENT TOOK PLACE 40 YEARS AGO.
40 YEARS AGO I WAS A STUDENT.

Steve says AT WHAT POINT DID YOU
GET YOUR HANDS ON IT?

Evelyn says A LITTLE MORE THAN A DECADE
NOW I GOT HOLD OF THE DATA AND I
WAS ABLE TO LOOK AT THE HEALTH
AND THE WELL-BEING OF THE
PARTICIPANTS IN THE EXPERIMENT.

Steve says AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN?

Evelyn says WELL, I LEARNED AMONG OTHER
THINGS THAT PROBABLY THE MOST
INTERESTING RESULT WAS AN
INCREASE IN HIGH SCHOOL
COMPLETION RATES, WHICH WOULD
HAVE BEEN A RATHER DRAMATIC
OUTCOME I THINK FOR THE PEOPLE
WHO WERE ABLE TO FINISH HIGH
SCHOOL DURING THE MID-1970S.
I AM A HEALTH ECONOMIST, SO I
WAS PARTICULARLY INTERESTED IN
THE HEALTH RESULTS, AND I FOUND
THAT THE PEOPLE WHO PARTICIPATED
IN THE EXPERIMENT WERE 8.5 percent LESS
LIKELY TO BE HOSPITALIZED THAN A
CONTROL GROUP, A MATCHED CONTROL
GROUP, SO THAT WAS A RATHER
INTERESTING OUTCOME.
WHEN I LOOKED AT THE CODES A
LITTLE BIT MORE CLOSELY, I FOUND
THAT MENTAL HEALTH COMPLAINTS
HAD DECLINED RATHER DRAMATICALLY
AND VISITS TO FAMILY DOCTORS
WITH MENTAL HEALTH COMPLAINTS
HAD DECLINED AS WELL.

Steve says I WANT TO GO THROUGH
ALL THESE, BECAUSE THESE ARE
FASCINATING CONCLUSIONS HERE.

Evelyn says SURE.

Steve says MORE YOUNG PEOPLE
FINISHED HIGH SCHOOL THAN
OTHERWISE YOU THINK MAY HAVE.

Evelyn says THAT'S RIGHT.

Steve says WHAT ACCOUNTS FOR THAT?

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Evelyn says WELL, IT'S INTERESTING.
THERE WAS SOME WORK DONE... THE
PURPOSE OF THE INCOME EXPERIMENT
WAS TO ADDRESS A CONCERN THAT A
LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE, AND THAT IS
THAT IF YOU GIVE PEOPLE BASIC
INCOME THEY'RE SIMPLY GOING TO
STOP WORKING, AND SO THERE WAS
SOME WORK DONE IN THE 1980S BY A
COUPLE OF HEALTH ECONOMISTS, AND
THERE ARE A COUPLE OF LABOUR
MARKET ECONOMISTS, AND THEY
DISCOVERED THAT... FOR THE MOST
PART, ADULTS WHO HAD REAL JOBS
CONTINUED TO WORK JUST AS THEY
DID BEFORE.
THERE WERE TWO GROUPS OF PEOPLE
WHO DID REDUCE THE NUMBER OF
HOURS THEY WORKED.
NEW MOTHERS WHO IF YOU REMEMBER
THE 1970S, THIS WAS A PERIOD
WHEN MATERNITY LEAVES WERE ABOUT
FOUR WEEKS LONG, AND A LOT OF
NEW MOTHERS THOUGHT THAT WAS A
RATHER MISERLY MATERNITY LEAVE,
AND SO THEY USED THE INCOME TO
BUY THEM A LONGER PARENTAL LEAVE.
HERE THE LANGUAGE IS REALLY
IMPORTANT, BUT THE OTHERS WERE
YOUNG UNATTACHED MALES.
SO YOUNG UNATTACHED MALES
REDUCED THE NUMBER OF HOURS THEY
WORKED SOMETIMES BY UP TO 80 percent.
AND THAT SEEMED TO FEED A LOT OF
STEREOTYPES ABOUT WHAT A BASIC
INCOME WOULD DO.
I HAD SOME IDEA OF WHAT WAS
HAPPENING TO THOSE YOUNG
UNATTACHED MALES.
I WENT LOOKING FOR THEM ABOUT A
DECADE AGO, AND IT TURNS OUT
THEY WERE STAYING IN HIGH
SCHOOL.
THE YOUNG UNATTACHED MALES WERE
16 AND 17 YEAR-OLD BOYS FOR THE
MOST PART.
INSTEAD OF LEAVING SCHOOL
INSTEAD THEY TURN 16, WHICH YOU
COULD DO BACK THEN, AND GETTING
A JOB IN AGRICULTURE OR IN
MANUFACTURING, WERE MORE LIKELY
TO STAY IN HIGH SCHOOL AND
GRADUATE.
AND SO IF YOU THINK ABOUT THE
OPPORTUNITIES OF SOMEBODY WHO
HAD COMPLETED GRADE 12 IN THE
1970S WOULD HAVE RELATIVE TO
SOMEBODY WHO HAD LEFT SCHOOL
EARLY WOULD BE DRAMATICALLY
DIFFERENT.
THEY WERE STAYING IN SCHOOL
BECAUSE THEIR FAMILIES WERE
RECEIVING A STIPEND.
INSTEAD OF ENCOURAGING THOSE
YOUNG BOYS TO BECOME
SELF-SUPPORTING AS SOON AS THEY
COULD, THEY WERE ENCOURAGED TO
STAY IN HIGH SCHOOL AND
GRADUATE.

Steve says OKAY, YOU SAY THAT
HEALTH IMPROVED.
IS THAT TO SAY THAT MANITOBA
THEN WAS ABLE TO SPEND LESS ON
HEALTH CARE THAN THEY OTHERWISE
WOULD HAVE?

Evelyn says WELL, HOSPITALIZATIONS WERE
DECLINING THROUGHOUT THE PERIOD
IN ANY CASE FOR BOTH THE CONTROL
GROUP AND THE PEOPLE WHO
RECEIVED A BASIC INCOME, BUT
THEY FOUND MORE QUICKLY FOR THE
PEOPLE WHO RECEIVED THE BASIC
INCOME.
AND IF YOU THINK OF IT IN TERMS
OF COST, THIS WAS A COUNTRY THAT
RIGHT NOW IS SPENDING ABOUT 60
BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR, MORE THAN 60
BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR ON HOSPITALS.
IF YOU SEE AN 8.5 percent REDUCTION IN
THE HOSPITALIZATION, THAT'S A
DRAMATIC SAVINGS.

Steve says HERE'S WHAT YOU WRITE
IN THE BOOK.

A quote appears on screen, under the title "A valuable insurance policy." The quote reads "A BASIC INCOME GUARANTEE WOULD ACT AS A TOP-UP IN HARDER TIMES AS WELL AS SERVE AS A VALUABLE INSURANCE POLICY, A PROMISE THAT NO MATTER WHAT THE FLOOR WON'T
FALL OUT FROM BENEATH THEIR FEET.
A BASIC INCOME FOR CANADA IS NEITHER IMPOSSIBLY UTOPIAN OR OUTRAGEOUSLY EXPENSIVE. CHOOSING TO DO SO IS SIMPLY A MATTER OF DECIDING WHAT KIND OF SOCIETY WE WANT TO LIVE IN."
Quoted from Evelyn Forget, "Basic income for Canadians." 2018.

Steve says BECAUSE THE NEW ONTARIO
GOVERNMENT CANCELLED THE BASIC
INCOME PILOT, WHAT DOES THAT
SUGGEST TO YOU ABOUT THE KIND OF
SOCIETY THEY WANT TO LIVE IN?

The caption changes to "The floor won't fall out."

Evelyn says I THINK THAT THERE'S ALWAYS A FEAR WHEN PEOPLE TALK ABOUT
BASIC INCOME THAT WE'RE
ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO BECOME
DEPENDENT, AND I THINK THAT THE
EXPERIMENTS THAT HAVE TAKEN
PLACE IN CANADA, AND IN OTHER
COUNTRIES, HIGH-INCOME
COUNTRIES, MIDDLE-INCOME
COUNTRIES, LOW-INCOME COUNTRIES,
DEMONSTRATES THE FACT THAT
PEOPLE DON'T STOP WORKING.
THEY USE THE MONEY THEY RECEIVE
THROUGH A BASIC INCOME TO BECOME
MORE INDEPENDENT, TO ACCESS JOB
TRAINING, TO LIVE BETTER LIVES.
SO I THINK IT'S A VERY
SHORT-SIGHTED DECISION.
I THINK THE FOCUS IS ON THE
UPFRONT COST AND THE FOCUS IS ON
PLAYING TO A PARTICULAR VIEW OF
THE WAY SOCIETY WORKS.
IT'S NOT NECESSARILY BORNE OUT
BY THE EVIDENCE.

Steve says BUT PRESUMABLY PART OF
THE IDEA BEHIND THE PROGRAM IS
TO ALLEVIATE POVERTY.

Evelyn says ABSOLUTELY.

Steve says DOES IT IN FACT DO THAT?

Evelyn says IT DOES.

Steve says YOU HAVE LOOKED AT THE
DATA AND YOU ARE CONVINCED THAT
A BASIC INCOME HELPS END POVERTY?

Evelyn says I THINK IT REDUCES THE RATE
OF POVERTY.

Steve says HERE'S ANOTHER QUOTE
FROM THE BOOK.

Another quote from the book appears on screen, under the title "The coercion of grinding poverty." The quote reads "IT ALLOWS EACH OF US THE BASIC RESOURCES WE REQUIRE TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR SOCIETY. WE CAN REGISTER OUR CHILD IN THEATRE OR HOCKEY. WE CAN ENJOY THE SMALL PLEASURES OF GOING TO A COFFEE SHOP OR A NEIGHBOURHOOD PUB WITHOUT WORRYING ABOUT THE FEW DOLLARS INVOLVED. WE MAY FIND TIME TO VOLUNTEER IN OUR COMMUNITIES OR HELP OUR NEIGHBOURS AND FAMILY MEMBERS WHO REQUIRE ADDITIONAL SUPPORT. ALL OF US WILL HAVE THE SAME OPPORTUNITIES TO MAKE OUR OWN DECISIONS AND TO LYE WITH THE CONSEQUENCES OF THOSE DECISIONS."

Steve says NOW SOME PEOPLE MAY HEAR THAT AND SAY WHY IS IT MY
RESPONSIBILITY AS A TAXPAYER TO
FUND THAT PERSON'S KID GOING
INTO HOCKEY IF THEY CAN'T AFFORD
TO SEND THEIR KID TO HOCKEY, OR
THAT PERSON'S HUSBAND TO GO DOWN
TO THE PUB FOR A BREW AFTER WORK
IF THEY CAN'T AFFORD TO DO THAT?
WHAT'S THE ANSWER?

Evelyn says I THINK THE ANSWER TO THAT
QUESTION COMES OUT OF SOME
RECENT RESEARCH THAT IS TAKING
PLAYS IN FINLAND.
FINLAND RAN A TWO-YEAR BASIC
INCOME EXPERIMENT, AND ONE OF
THE KEY FINDINGS WAS THAT PEOPLE
WHO RECEIVED A BASIC INCOME
ENGAGED IN MORE PRO-SOCIAL
BEHAVIOUR.
THAT IS, THEY HAD GREATER TRUST
IN ONE ANOTHER, THEY WERE MORE
LIKELY TO TRUST GOVERNMENT, TO
TRUST THE ORGANIZATIONS AND THE
INSTITUTIONS THAT EXISTED IN
SOCIETY.
I THINK THAT ALLOWING PEOPLE TO
PARTICIPATE FULLY IN SOCIETY
ENCOURAGES THEM TO BECOME
PRODUCTIVE AND HELPFUL
NEIGHBOURS.
I MEAN, I THINK WE ALL WANT TO
BE PART OF THE SAME COMMUNITY
THAT WE LIVE IN.

Steve says SO THE GIST OF THAT,
IF I UNDERSTAND IT, THEN, IS NOT
ONLY ARE YOU HELPING ALLEVIATE
THE POVERTY OF THE RECIPIENTS,
BUT YOU'RE IMPROVING SOCIETY AS
A WHOLE?

Evelyn says THAT'S RIGHT.
YOU'RE CREATING A BETTER
COMMUNITY IN WHICH TO LIVE.

Steve says I WOULD LIKE TO ASK
YOU A PERSONAL QUESTION.
AND I DON'T DO SO BECAUSE YOU
AND I HAVE KNOWN EACH OTHER FOR
SO MANY YEARS, BECAUSE WE
HAVEN'T, BUT YOU TALK ABOUT THIS
IN THE BOOK, SO I THINK I'M ON
OKAY TERRITORY TO TREAD HERE.
YOU ARE THE OLDEST OF THREE.
YOUR FATHER DIED WHEN YOU WERE
JUST 12 YEARS OLD.
YOUR MOTHER, YOU SAY IN THE
BOOK, HAD FEW SKILLS THAT A
MARKET ECONOMY WOULD RECOGNIZE
AS BEING VALUABLE IN THE WORLD.
AND I WANT TO KNOW HOW YOUR
FAMILY GOT THROUGH ALL THAT.

Evelyn says MY MOTHER RELIED ON MOTHER'S ALLOWANCE IN THE FIRST INSTANCE.
GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE MADE IT
POSSIBLE FOR HER TO GET HER FEET
BACK UNDER HER.
AND THEN SHE WAS ABLE TO ACCESS
A LOT OF NOT PARTICULARLY WELL
PAYING JOBS, BUT A LOT OF JOBS
THAT ALLOWED US TO CONTINUE
DURING THAT PERIOD.
I THINK WHAT A BASIC INCOME DOES
IS IT PROVIDES THAT INSURANCE
POLICY.
IT PROVIDES JUST A LITTLE BIT OF
BREATHING SPACE WHEN SOMETHING
HAPPENS THAT NOBODY EXPECTS TO
HAPPEN.

Steve says THE MOTHER'S ALLOWANCE
IS A KIND OF A GUARANTEED
INCOME, ISN'T IT?

Evelyn says WELL...

Steve says SORT OF.

Evelyn says SORT OF.
IT'S A LITTLE BIT CLOSER TO
BASIC PROVINCIAL INCOME
ASSISTANCE.
THERE ARE A LOT OF REGULATIONS
AND RULES THAT GOVERN IT.
BUT IT IS SUPPORT.

Steve says HAD A BASIC INCOME
BEEN IN PLACE WHEN YOUR MOTHER
WAS GOING THROUGH ALL OF THIS,
WOULD YOUR LIVES HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT?

Evelyn says LIFE WOULD HAVE BEEN A LITTLE EASIER.
IT WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE
ACCOMMODATING.
WE WOULDN'T HAVE STRUGGLED QUITE
SO MUCH TO ENSURE THAT EVERYONE
MADE IT TO UNIVERSITY, MY TWO
BROTHERS AND I BOTH MANAGED TO
GRADUATE FROM UNIVERSITY, WHICH
I THINK WAS QUITE AN UNDERTAKING
FOR MY MOTHER DURING THE PERIOD.

Steve says INDEED.
LET'S GO BACK TO THE WINNIPEG OF
ALMOST A DECADE AGO.
AGAIN, YOU CRUNCHED THE NUMBERS
AND YOU DISCOVERED THAT THE
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING A
WEALTHY WOMAN AND A POOR WOMAN
WAS 16.6 YEARS OF LIFE.
AND FOR MEN, BEING WEALTHIER
THAN POORER MEANT YOU LIVED ON
AVERAGE 15.6 YEARS LONGER.
NOW THAT WAS A DECADE AGO, RIGHT?

The caption changes to "Compare and contrast."

Evelyn says RIGHT.

Steve says WHAT DO YOU THINK THE
LIFESPAN GAP LOOKS LIKE TODAY?

Evelyn says I EXPECT IT'S NOT SHORTER.
THE DIFFERENCES IN LIFE
OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE AT THE
BOTTOM END OF THE INCOME
DISTRIBUTION SCALE, LIFE HAS
GOTTEN HARDER FOR PEOPLE, NOT
EASIER, OVER TIME.
THE INEQUALITY AND INCOME
DISTRIBUTION HAS GROWN OVER THE
PAST DECADE, SO THOSE OF US
FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO HAVE
WELL-PAYING JOBS ARE DOING QUITE
WELL IN THIS ECONOMY, AND
THAT... THAT ISN'T SHARED.
THAT ISN'T BROADLY SHARED IN
SOCIETY.
AND I THINK IT WOULD BE
REFLECTED IN HEALTH OUTCOMES.
I THINK IT WILL BE REFLECTED IN
MORTALITY RATES.

Steve says FOR WHICH GENDER IS A
BASIC INCOME MORE IMPORTANT?

Evelyn says THAT'S A HARD CALL.
I THINK THAT TRADITIONALLY WOMEN
HAVE HAD... WOMEN HAVE HAD MANY
FEWER OPPORTUNITIES TO ACHIEVE
THE SAME KIND OF FINANCIAL
OUTCOMES THAN MEN HAVE HAD.
SO FOR WOMEN, THINGS HAPPEN IN
THEIR LIVES THAT THEY DON'T
NECESSARILY HAVE CONTROL OVER IN
THE SAME WAY THAT MEN HAVE HAD.
THAT MAY BE CHANGING OVER TIME.
I THINK THAT WOMEN... AS LONG AS
WOMEN ARE DISPROPORTIONATELY
REPRESENTED AMONG THE POOREST
MEMBERS OF SOCIETY, BASIC INCOME
IS GOING TO BE MOST IMPORTANT TO WOMEN.

Steve says NOW I GATHER WHEN
PEOPLE APPLY, FOR EXAMPLE, FOR
SOCIAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS FROM
THEIR PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT
TODAY, THEIR CASEWORKER HAS A
CERTAIN AMOUNT OF DISCRETION AND
LATITUDE TO EITHER TOP UP OR NOT
OR DO THIS OR DO THAT, YOU KNOW,
WITH A WINK AND A NOD AND WHATEVER.

Evelyn says MM-HM.

Steve says IS PART OF THE APPEAL
OF A BASIC INCOME THAT YOU AVOID
ALL THAT?

Evelyn says ABSOLUTELY.
I THINK THAT HOW MUCH MONEY YOU
GET SHOULDN'T DEPEND ON HOW
ACCOMMODATING YOUR WORKER IS,
YOUR CASEWORKER IS, AND IT
SHOULDN'T DEPEND ON HOW WELL YOU
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS AND HOW WELL
YOU KNOW THE SYSTEM.
I ACTUALLY FEEL A GREAT DEAL OF
SYMPATHY FOR CASEWORKERS.
THESE ARE INCREDIBLY HIGHLY
SKILLED PEOPLE WHO GO INTO THE
FIELD BECAUSE THEY WANT TO HELP
PEOPLE.
THEY WANT TO HELP PEOPLE LIVE
BETTER LIVES, AND THEY SPEND
THEIR DAYS TRYING TO MAKE THE
SYSTEM WORK FOR THEIR CLIENTS,
TRYING TO FIND MONEY FOR THEIR
CLIENTS THAT NEED IT.
TRYING TO APPLY THE RULES AND AT
THE SAME TIME THEY ARE BEING
TOLD TO POLICE THEIR CLIENTS, TO
MAKE SURE THAT THE RULES AREN'T
BEING BROKEN, TO MAKE SURE THAT
THERE'S NO WELFARE FRAUD GOING
ON.
AND THAT PUTS THE CASEWORKER I
THINK IN A VERY, VERY DIFFICULT
POSITION.
BUT I THINK IF WE HAD A FORM
LAIC SYSTEM, LIKE A BASIC
INCOME, WHERE PEOPLE WOULD
RECEIVE THE BENEFITS WITHOUT
HAVING TO WORK THE SYSTEM, IT
WOULD BE A TREMENDOUS ADVANTAGE
FOR PEOPLE.

Steve says AND LET'S UNDERSTAND,
WOULD THE BASIC INCOME BE
DESIGNED TO REPLACE THE EXISTING
PROGRAMS?

Evelyn says THAT WAS WHAT WAS IN PLACE IN ONTARIO AND... I THINK THE IDEA
IN CANADA WOULD BE THAT A BASIC
INCOME WOULD REPLACE PROVINCIAL
INCOME ASSISTANCE.

Steve says AND THEORETICALLY
THAT'S A WHOLE... WHAT'S... I
DON'T KNOW WHAT THE BEST WORD IS
HERE.
RAFT OF BUREAUCRACY IS PROBABLY
NOT THE BEST WORD.
GIVE ME A BETTER WORD.

Evelyn says I DON'T HAVE A BETTER WORD
FOR IT.
THERE'S A WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE.

Steve says A WHOLE BUNCH OF
BUREAUCRATS WHO WOULD NOT NEED
TO ADMINISTER ALL THESE PROGRAMS
IF YOU NEEDED A BASIC INCOME?

Evelyn says THAT'S TRUE.
ON THE OTHER HAND, I DON'T THINK
THAT WE HAVE TOO MANY SOCIAL
WORKERS WORKING FOR MOST
GOVERNMENTS.
I THINK MANY PEOPLE ARE
PROVIDING LABOUR THAT'S BADLY
USED.
I THINK IT WOULD BE WONDERFUL IF
WE COULD TURN SOME OF THESE
PEOPLE LOOSE TO PROVIDE PROGRAMS
THAT HELP PEOPLE.

Steve says OKAY, WE GOT TO TALK
MONEY.

Evelyn says OKAY.

Steve says BECAUSE AFTER
CRUNCHING ALL THE NUMBERS YOU
HAVE SUGGESTED THAT THE FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT COULD CREATE A
NATIONAL BASIC INCOME PROGRAM
FOR 43 BILLION DOLLARS.

Evelyn says YEP.

Steve says CAN WE AFFORD THAT?

The caption changes to "Can we afford this?"

Evelyn says ACTUALLY, I DIDN'T CRUNCH THE
NUMBERS.
THE PARLIAMENTARY BUDGET OFFICE
CRUNCHED THE NUMBERS.
THE PARLIAMENTARY BUDGET OFFICE
WAS ASKED WHEN THE ONTARIO
PROJECT WAS UNDER WAY THEY WERE
ASKED WHAT THE COST OF
DELIVERING THAT PROGRAM WOULD BE
IF WE ROLLED IT OUT ACROSS THE
ENTIRE COUNTRY, IF ALL CANADIANS
HAD ACCESS TO THAT PROGRAM.
THE GROWTH COST CAME OUT AT 76
BILLION DOLLARS, WHICH IS A TREMENDOUS
AMOUNT OF MONEY A YEAR.
BUT IT TURNS OUT THAT THE
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S ALREADY
PROVIDING A GREAT DEAL OF
SUPPORT AIMED AT FAIRLY
LOW-INCOME CANADIANS.
THINGS LIKE THE GST CREDIT AND
THE CANADA WORKERS BENEFIT, AND
SO THEY ASKED THE QUESTION: IF
WE COULD TAKE SOME OF THOSE
PROGRAMS AND ROLL THEM IN TO
HELP FINANCE THE BASIC INCOME,
WHAT WOULD IT COST?
AND THAT COMES DOWN TO 43
BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live."

Steve says SO ABOUT HALF A MUCH.

Evelyn says ABOUT HALF AS MUCH.
WE CURRENTLY SPEND ON PROVINCIAL
INCOME ASSISTANCE ABOUT 20
BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR.
SO WHAT WE'RE REALLY LOOKING AT
IS AN ADDITIONAL 23 BILLION DOLLARS A
YEAR TO PROVIDE THIS PROGRAM
ACROSS THE WHOLE COUNTRY.
IF WE REPLACED PROVINCIAL INCOME
ASSISTANCE.

Steve says 23 BILLION DOLLARS ON A
FEDERAL BUDGET OF 350 BILLION DOLLARS.

Evelyn says THAT'S RIGHT.
IT'S ABOUT 6 percent OF THE
EXPENDITURE, AND JUST TO PUT IT
IN CONTEXT, WE SPEND 23 BILLION DOLLARS
EVERY YEAR PROVIDING THE CHILD
CANADA BENEFIT.
WE HAVE DECIDED WE CAN AFFORD
THAT.
WE SPEND TWICE AS MUCH, MORE
THAN TWICE A MUCH, PROVIDING
GUARANTEED INCOME SUPPLEMENT AND
OAS AND SOME OTHER PENSION
ARRANGEMENTS FOR SENIORS.
WE HAVE DECIDED WE CAN AFFORD
THAT.
THE QUESTION IS CAN WE AFFORD AN
ADDITIONAL 23 BILLION DOLLARS.
THE PARLIAMENTARY BUDGET OFFICE
PUBLISHED A SECOND REPORT LAST
YEAR ON TAX EXPENDITURES.
TAX EXPENDITURES ARE DEDUCTIONS
ON YOUR INCOME TAX,
NON-REFUNDABLE TAX CREDITS.
THESE ARE ADVANTAGES THAT ARE
DISPROPORTIONATELY BENEFICIAL TO
MIDDLE AND HIGH-INCOME EARNERS.
THE HIGHER YOUR INCOME IS, THE
MORE BENEFICIAL THESE ARE.
THEY LIKE THE DEDUCTIONS VERY
MUCH.
THEY COST 122 BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR.
AND I GUESS MY QUESTION IS IF WE
CAN AFFORD 122 BILLION DOLLARS FOR INCOME ASSISTANCE FOR PEOPLE
LIKE YOU AND ME, CAN WE AFFORD
23 BILLION DOLLARS TO PROVIDE INCOME
ASSISTANCE FOR LOWER-INCOME PEOPLE?

Steve says ANDREW COYNE HAS SAID: THREE
POINTS ON THE GST AND WE CAN
ERADICATE POVERTY.
SEEMS LIKE A GOOD DEAL.

Evelyn says SEEMS LIKE A GREAT DEAL.
I'M NOT SURE THAT'S THE WAY I'D
RAISE THE MONEY, BUT IT'S NOT...
I MEAN, IT'S DOABLE.
THERE ARE A NUMBER OF WAYS TO
RAISE THAT MONEY.

Steve says PRESUMABLY, IF YOU
BROUGHT IN SOME KIND OF NATIONAL
BASIC INCOME AND POVERTY WAS
ALLEVIATED MORE, YOU COULD SPEND
LESS ON HOSPITALS, YOU COULD
SPEND LESS ON THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
BECAUSE PEOPLE WOULD BE GETTING
INTO LESS TROUBLE.

Evelyn says THAT'S RIGHT.

Steve says I MEAN, WOULD YOU GO
SO FAR TO SAY AS IT MIGHT
ACTUALLY PAY FOR ITSELF, OR YOU
DON'T WANT TO GO THAT FAR?

Evelyn says I THINK YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT
THE COSTS IN THE TWO SEPARATE WAYS.
THERE'S THE UPFRONT PROGRAM
COSTS THAT YOU NEED TO ROLL OUT
THE PROGRAM, BUT ALSO THINK
ABOUT IT AS A RETURN ON
INVESTMENT, RIGHT?
YOU'RE INVESTING 23 BILLION DOLLARS,
AND SOME OF THAT IS GOING TO
COME BACK IN THE FORM OF REDUCED
UPWARD PRESSURE ON THE HEALTH
CARE SYSTEM, FOR EXAMPLE.
I SAID I'M A HEALTH ECONOMIST.
MY OFFICE IS ACTUALLY IN THE
TEACHING HOSPITAL IN WINNIPEG,
AND YOU REALIZE PRETTY QUICKLY
THAT YOU'RE SPENDING A WHOLE LOT
OF MONEY TREATING THE
CONSEQUENCES OF POVERTY.
IF WE CAN TAKE SOME OF THAT
MONEY AND ALLOCATE IT TO
FAMILIES UP FRONT SO THAT THEY
CAN LIVE REASONABLE LIVES, I
THINK YOU'D SEE THE RETURNS DOWN STREAM.

Steve says WHAT DO YOU THINK THE
CHANCES ARE OF SEEING THIS... I
MEAN, YOU HAD A START AND A STOP
IN YOUR NATIVE MANITOBA.

Evelyn says WE DID.

Steve says WE NOW IN THE PROVINCE
OF ONTARIO OVER THE LAST FEW
YEARS HAD A START AND A STOP.

Evelyn says RIGHT.

Steve says WHAT DO YOU THINK THE
ODDS ARE ON SEEING THIS ACTUALLY
HAPPEN IN YOUR LIFETIME?

Evelyn says I ACTUALLY THINK IT'S
INEVITABLE.
DEPENDS HOW OLD YOU THINK I AM.
[Laughter]
BUT I THINK IT'S INEVITABLE, AND
ONE OF THE REASONS I THINK IT'S
INEVITABLE IS BECAUSE IF YOU
LOOK AT THE BUDGET OF ALL TEN
PROVINCES, NONE OF THEM ARE IN
VERY GOOD SHAPE.
AND ALL OF THEM ARE LOOKING AT A
GREAT DEAL OF DIFFICULTY IN THE
COMING YEARS AS THE POPULATION
AGES AND AS THE HEALTH CARE
BUDGET GOBBLES UP GREATER AND
GREATER PROPORTION OF TAX
REVENUE.
SO THE PROVINCES ARE BEING
SQUEEZED.
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, ON THE
OTHER HAND, HAS THE FISCAL ROOM
TO OFFER THIS KIND OF A PROGRAM.
SO I MEAN, SOME KIND OF AN
ADJUSTMENT HAS TO HAPPEN IN THE
COMING YEARS.
THE GOVERNMENT COULD... FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT COULD HAND OVER TO
THE PROVINCES ALL KINDS OF MONEY
AND SAY DO WHAT YOU WANT.
THEY HAVEN'T BEEN KEEN TO DO
THAT IN RECENT YEARS.
SO I THINK IT'S... I THINK THAT
THERE ARE A NUMBER OF FACTORS
COMING TOGETHER THAT ARE LEADING
TOWARDS BASIC INCOME.
ONE OF THE THINGS WE REALLY
HAVEN'T TALKED ABOUT ARE THE
CHANGES IN THE LABOUR MARKET
THAT HAVE OCCURRED IN RECENT
YEARS, AND THOSE KINDS OF
CHANGES, YOU KNOW, THE CHANGES
IN TECHNOLOGY, THE INCREASED USE
OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, ARE
GOING TO CAUSE HAVOC IN THE
LABOUR MARKET.

Steve says A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE
GOING TO BE LEFT BEHIND, AREN'T THEY?

Evelyn says THEY CERTAINLY ARE.
I THINK WE'RE GOING TO SEE A LOT
OF PEOPLE WHO AREN'T TRAINED FOR
THE NEW JOBS COMING IN, AND WE
NEED SOME KIND OF A PROGRAM TO
ENSURE THAT MONEY GETS INTO THE
HANDS OF PEOPLE.

The caption changes to "tvo.org/theagenda; agendaconnect@tvo.org."

Steve says WELL, I HAVE TO SAY
IT'S A VERY READABLE BOOK, AND
YOU DIDN'T DROWN US IN MAPS AND
SURVEYS AND STUDIES AND THIS
KIND OF THING.

Evelyn says YOU CAN THANK MY PUBLISHER
FOR THAT.

The caption changes to "Producer: Steve Paikin, @spaikin."

Steve says IT WASN'T 200 PAGES
LONG, AND HUGH SEGAL, A FORMER
SENATOR, THE GREAT CHAMPION OF
THIS, HAS CALLED YOUR BOOK THE
NEW BIBLE ON HOW TO BEST REDUCE
POVERTY FOR MILLIONS.
IT'S CALLED BASIC INCOME FOR
CANADIANS.
EVELYN FORGET THINKS THIS IS
INEVITABLE.
WE SHALL SEE.
THANKS FOR COMING INTO TVO.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Evelyn says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Watch: The Case for Basic Income