March 2020 Newsletter


In response to Senator Kim Pate’s call for the Senate to take action on supporting the implementation of a Guaranteed Livable Income, OBIN sent out this media release.

OBIN'S Statement on Senator Kim Pate’s Call for a Guaranteed Livable Income

Feb. 26 2020 OTTAWA, Ontario - Yesterday, Senator Kim Pate asked the Senate of Canada to take action to support the implementation of a Guaranteed Livable Income or Basic Income in Canada. This action echoes a similar request, made nearly fifty years prior, by the Special Senate Committee on Poverty, in what was better known as the 1971 Croll Report.

Opening with the famous phrase—"Poverty is the great social issue of our time. The poor do not choose poverty. It is at once their affliction and our national shame”—the landmark report took issue with the rising levels of dismal poverty facing the nation.

Now, almost a half-century later, we have strong evidence from across the world, including in Canada, that Basic Income indeed works. It improves health and mental health, reduces stress, increases educational attainment, offers security in precarious work environments, and if provided at adequate levels it can, ultimately, end poverty. The biggest concerns, that a basic income would entice people to drop out of the labour market (the “work disincentive argument”) or that it comes with an astronomical price tag (the “cost argument”), have proven to be unfounded.

The forms of Basic Income we have already in Canada through pension programs and child tax benefits, specifically, the Canada Child Benefit, have resulted in decreased rates of poverty for seniors and families, thus improving the well-being of these groups while also reducing their health and social care expenditures. Although Basic Income cannot replace essential funds for Social Services and an effective National Housing Strategy, it is the key ingredient for eradicating poverty. Expanding the benefits of a Basic Income to all Canadians, would, as Former Senator Hugh Segal has tirelessly argued, “reduce cost pressures” in our current health and social systems; it is an investment that would yield tremendous cost savings. It also would demonstrate the true greatness that the late-Senator David Croll once affirmed could be achieved should Canada find “the courage and determination to undertake the surgery necessary to remove the cancer of poverty from its body politic.”

The Ontario Basic Income Network (OBIN) agrees with Senator Kim Pate’s appeal that “it is time to act to prevent human suffering before it happens.” That time is now.

Senator Kim Pate's website

OBIN Facilitator's Corner

2020 has started off with a bang! Our new Promotions and Communications team is energetic. You may have already received a note from them.

As a coordinating team, we respond to your suggestions and activities. We, therefore, look forward to your contributions so that we can showcase at least one affiliate group each month.

Our new website is progressing. Stay tuned; it should be worth the wait. Budget-wise, we would like to have some funds for face-to-face meetings with some of you to provide support and gain ideas to share. By the way, if you have ideas about fundraising, please send them in!

We are excited to have the Senate of Canada considering support for a Basic Income. The March 4th event at City Hall in Ottawa is shaping up to be a big event. The Honourable Senator Kim Pate is planning to attend.

Thanks to those of you who responded to our E-Blast regarding the future directions of OBIN. About 20% of members in our database replied with useful comments. I will attempt to respond.

On Basis of Affiliation:

Comment: “Perhaps there should be some language around terms ending if people aren’t performing their duties as described? It should be outlined what that process would look like if someone needed to be replaced so that momentum isn’t lost because the role isn’t performing.”

Yes, this can be a problem. As you are aware, two of our team resigned stating that they did not have the time due to work and family pressures. As volunteers who are committed to a Basic Income, we are all trying to do our part and share concerns if we are not able to contribute. The C-Team has prided itself as a “working together” team. We have been quite successful in being flexible to use the talent and available time of our volunteers. The monthly Zoom meetings are a way we check and help each other. Personally, I feel that the current informal process is adequate. We will continue to monitor this as it is a valid concern.

Comment: “I would ensure two-year terms with half expiring each year after an initial three-year term.”

To stagger changes to the C-Team to avoid losing history and experience is important. We will begin this process with the next Team who are to start in October.

On Goal and Objectives:


  • “Who's going to keep track and count?”
  • “What do you mean by contact? It’s easy to advertise to 100,000 people briefly. Engaging them is more difficult.”
  • “It will be hard to measure the 100,000 persons but 1000 is measurable. 200 affiliates might be too ambitious.”

Agreed. We will need all of us to reach out to Ontarians. We are not so concerned about accurate measurements but rather that we are all working together in the same direction. We would appreciate, though, keeping us informed of your events, the approximate numbers contacted and those who have agreed to participate. Even if some of those contacted do not respond, they at least have some initial information about a Basic Income. With so much info hitting us each day, it will take time to catch people’s attention and to educate them about Basic Income.

If we are going to convince the next government to take action, then we will need to have a critical mass of supporters by the time serious electioneering begins.

Comment: “Might want to clarify the reporting process to local networks if any.” 

The Promotions and Communications team is working on this and will be consulting with you.

So, thanks to all for your input. We don’t need a regular survey to share concerns or suggestions. Please feel free to send your ideas in at any time.

Joe Foster, OBIN C-Team Facilitator can be reached at [email protected]

OBIN Updates

Basic Income Documentary Film Screening in Ottawa

As part of the celebration of Social Work Week the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW) - Eastern Branch will be hosting a screening of A Town Without Poverty: Canada’s Experiment in Guaranteed Income. The documentary tells the story of the Basic Income pilot project that took place in Dauphin, Manitoba from 1974-1979, highlighting the profound impact that it had on participants’ lives.

The screening will be followed by an interactive discussion with a panel of experts including Ron Hikel, the former Executive Director of the Dauphin Mincome Project, Hugh Shewell, Professor of Social Work at Carleton University, and Linda Lalonde, Chair of the Ottawa Poverty Reduction Network. Senator Kim Pate of the Canadian Senate and the Mayor of Ottawa, Jim Watson, will also be in attendance.

Organizers hope that the event will help raise awareness about Basic Income, encourage attendees to share ideas, and spark discussion about strategies on how best to implement a Basic Income in Canada. “There have been a lot of positive responses to date from a broad base of the community and we have big hopes,” says Lynn Sherwood, OASW member and organizer of the event. The Ottawa members of the Ontario Basic Income Network (OBIN) will also hold a display table at the event to provide attendees with more information on how to get involved in the calls for Basic Income. We would like to encourage all Basic Income supporters in the Ottawa area to attend and show their support if possible.

The screening will take place on 4 March 2020 from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm in the Councillors’ Lounge at Ottawa City Hall. The event is open to the public and will be free of charge. There will even be complementary soup for those who bring their own mug!

For more information, please contact the OASW - Eastern Branch at [email protected]

Adam Zvric, Promotions and Communications Team

There's Lots Going On

Under OBIN’s leadership, and working with many Basic Income partners, the ‘Case for Basic Income’ series is quickly developing. This series focuses on specific sectors and issues and brings together key representatives to build the case for, and understand the limitations of Basic Income. We’ve held the case for ‘work’ (report being finalized) and have the teams in place for ‘women’, ‘food insecurity’, ‘health’, and ‘youth’. Stay tuned for more.

Together with Basic Income Canada Network, OBIN has sent in a proposal to the Federal Government suggesting a project which ties Basic Income directly to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Getting great support for this project from communities and even internationally! Following the success of the provincial Lobby Day held last November, our teams have started to work on a Lobby Day to be held in Ottawa next Fall. Thanks for all of your support!!!

Barbara Borak, External Relations Coordinator

Cross-Ontario Check-up

Ontario Basic Income Network invites you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Tuesday March 17, 2020, 07:00 PM EST

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 372 922 227

More details of the meeting will be sent out closer to the meeting.

Research Note

There is a new resource available for those researching Universal Basic Income (UBI).

James Mulvale (OBIN Co-Facilitator and Faculty member in Social Work at the University of Manitoba) has authored an entry in Oxford Bibliographies: Social Work on “Universal Basic Income” (found under the entries for “U”).

The formal citation is: Mulvale, James. P. (2020). Universal Basic Income. obo in Social Work. doi: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0279

As an on-line resource, Oxford Bibliographies is available through most university libraries.

The entry is an extensive list of references, with introductions and annotations, on various aspects of the academic and popular literature on UBI.  Headings include:

  •     the history of the idea of UBI
  •     program design and delivery options
  •     UBI-like programs
  •     justifications for UBI
  •     objections to UBI
  •     UBI and women
  •     UBI pilot projects and experiments
  •     organizations that research investigate and promote UBI

This entry in Oxford Bibliographies is intended to be a helpful starting point for researchers (including students) and activists interested in learning more about UBI.

James Mulvale , OBIN Co-Facilitator