The Case for Basic Income for Women


Report submitted by: Tracy Smith-Carrier, MSW, PhD, OCT, RSW and Chloe Halpenny, MSc, MPhil

On behalf of the Case for Basic Income for Women, including Coalition Canada Basic Income Guarantee, Ontario Basic Income Network, Basic Income Canada Network, and Basic Income Canada Youth Network

The impacts of COVID-19 have not been gender-neutral. Relative to their male counterparts, women are more likely to shoulder the disproportionate share of unpaid and unrecognized caring labour; experience poverty; be precariously employed in minimum-wage jobs; receive less in pension and other contributory programs; and experience gender-based violence or abuse.

Moreover, women are more likely to have fewer assets, less savings, lower wages, and less pensionable income compared to men. COVID-19 has exposed –and is exacerbating –many of these inequities. For women who occupy multiple marginalized identities (e.g., related to age, race, class, disability, sexual orientation, and so on), the effects of disadvantage are often compounded, resulting in poorer health, social, and economic outcomes.

A strong economic recovery plan must recognize women’s disproportionate vulnerability to financial and health shocks. Now is the time to adopt a permanent basic income program in order to ensure that no one—and critically, no woman—gets left behind.

*** Read the complete Report here.

In December 2019, 68% of women who were unemployed did not receive an EI benefit. CERB continues to leave too many women out, including those who had far too little income before the pandemic hit.

Quoting Senator Kim Pate, one of three sitting Senators who endorsed the statement, "For women in Canada, a guaranteed livable income would mean choice: being able to leave a situation of abuse without becoming homeless; being able to take time to search for suitable work or further education or pursue a new business or care for loved ones or contribute to the community, in ways that enrich all of us."

Almost 4000 people and representatives from organizations have signed the Statement on Basic Income: A Case for Women and are asking the Federal Government to implement a basic income model of social support.

Here it is:

Statement on Basic Income: A Case for Women

To: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Minister Maryam Monsef, Minister Carla Qualtrough, Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister Filomena Tasi

We believe now is the time for Canada to move to a method of income security that is both guaranteed and accessible to all who need it - Basic Income.

COVID-19 has intensified many harmful, systemic issues affecting women. Rates of domestic violence have risen across the country. Unpaid caring work has skyrocketed.

Among these systemic issues, income insecurity is one of the most severe - and this too, is not new. In December 2019, 68% of women who were unemployed did not receive EI benefits. While CERB has helped many of these women who shoulder both employment and care-giving responsibilities, it is coming to an end far too soon. CERB continues to leave too many women out, including those who had far too little income before the pandemic hit.  (Click the links below to read the complete statements.)

*** Read the complete English Statement with Signatories HERE

*** Read the complete French Statement with Signatories HERE

*** See the English Press Release HERE

*** See the French Press Release HERE



Basic Income: Towards Gender Equity Video

Gender equality is still far from being realized. In terms of economic parity, the World Economic Forum ranked women and girls in Canada 30 out of 153 countries this year. Now, COVID-19 is amplifying the fact that women are over-represented in precarious and low-wage work, are still the family's unpaid primary caregivers, and are susceptible to domestic violence.

In this webinar, a panel of extraordinary female researchers, organizers and advocates explored Basic Income as an important strategy in gender equity actions.

Published: 22 June 2020 by The Tamarack Institute

Slides developed by Tracy Smith-Carrier and featured in the webinar are here.


Rethinking Work and Income Maintenance Policy: Promoting Gender Equality Through a Citizens' Basic Income - Journal - Feminist Economics, Vol 7, 2001, Issue 1, Ailsa McKay - published online Jan 2011

Beyond Care: Expanding the Feminist Debate on Universal Basic Income - Wise Research Centre, Dr. Caitlin McLean, Ailsa McKay - September 2015

A "State" of Possibility? Reconfiguring basic income's feminist potential through the lens of the state - Basic Income Earth Network, Chloe Halpenny (member of OBIN's Case for BI and Women organizing team) - January 2020

A Feminist Approach to Ending Poverty after Covid-19 - Policy Options Politiques, Heather McGregor, Jasmine Ramze Rezaee - 22 May 2020

Close to half of women are feeling more anxious, depressed, isolated, overworked or ill because of increased unpaid care work caused by the pandemicOxfam survey, ReliefWeb, Michelle D’cruz - 18 June 2020

Access to a Basic Income: Exploring a Matricentric Feminist Approach to Poverty Alleviation for Mothers in Ontario - Journal of the Motherhood Initiative Vol 10, No 1-2 (2019), Tracy Smith-Carrier, Sarah Benbow

What could the basic income guarantee do for women's rights? - Basic Income Canada Network, Josephine Grey - 10 June 2018

With the participation of BICN