It's Time for a Guaranteed Livable Basic Income!

My team and I have been working alongside basic income supporters, anti-poverty organizations, disability rights organizations, unions, Indigenous peoples, and seniors advocates to put a guaranteed livable basic income (GLBI) at the front of the poverty elimination conversation.

In August 2020, I introduced Motion-46 (M-46) in the House of Commons for the establishment of a GLBI. 

The campaign for M-46 gathered 45,000 signatures across the country and mobilized thousands of people around a very clear ask: to ensure the human rights and dignity of all.

I am so encouraged by the strength of our movement, and the collective will to end poverty in this country. We must move towards a future where all people living in Canada can do so with dignity, security and human rights. This future is possible, it is simply a political choice.

We must legislate a long-term and permanent plan that prioritizes people over corporations -- It is time that the rich pay their fair share, and that everyone has access to housing, health care, and a livable income.

That is why on December 16th, 2021, I introduced Private Member’s Bill C-223, titled: National Framework for a Guaranteed Livable Basic Income Act. 

The bill proposes a GLBI for all people living in Canada over the age of 17, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. Recipients would not be required to participate in education, training, or the labour market in order to qualify and the benefit would not result in decreased services or benefits that support individuals exceptional health or disability needs. The bill would require the government to determine what constitutes a livable income for each region in Canada, to account for cost of living differences, and would require the establishment of necessary health and social supports to complement the implementation of a GLBI.

If you are interested in supporting the bill please sign up to volunteer and sign our petition. If you represent a community organization, please reach out to our office at [email protected] to sign up as an official endorser of Bill C-223.

Continue to talk with your communities about the importance of implementing a GLBI and share the videos and links below.

In solidarity,

Why a Guaranteed Livable Basic Income?

A guaranteed livable basic income (GLBI) is a predictable cash payment provided unconditionally by the government to all individuals in Canada who need it, without requirements to work, seek work, or participate in training or education as currently required by Employment Insurance. Under Bill C-223, a GLBI would be available to all people over 17 years old, across Canada, regardless of citizenship or immigration status.


A GLBI would build on our current social safety net to afford all persons in Canada with respect, dignity, security, and human rights affirmed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

GLBI is not a new idea - it is a tried and tested idea. Research has proven if you meet people's basic needs through a livable income, it saves costs in the long run on health care, justice, and social services. Poverty comes with a high cost on our public services. Poverty is not inevitable, it is a policy choice. Instead of corporate handouts and tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy, our governments can choose to prioritize the health, wellbeing, and basic human dignity of the people.

Governing should be about investing in people first and not corporations; this includes divesting from corporate welfare, ending off-shore tax havens, and taxing the ultra wealthy. According to a 2018 CRA study on illegal tax dodging and a 2019 PBO report on legal tax dodging, Canadians are missing out on as much as $51 billion per year in uncollected taxes, in places such as off-shore tax havens and tax avoidance schemes.

Our current social problems are not free and we must invest differently. The cost of inequality, insecurity and poverty is high and unsustainable for all levels of government. Can you imagine if we made the ultra wealthy pay their fair share and used that money to invest in people?

A guaranteed livable basic income must be administered in addition to: increased investments in current and future government public services, accessible affordable social housing, expanded health services, and income supports meant to meet special, exceptional and other distinct needs and goals rather than basic needs.

There is a growing affordability crisis in Canada and the existing supports are inadequate, unlivable, and keep people trapped in poverty. Instead of throwing away tax dollars reacting to crisis after crisis, GLBI gives Canada the opportunity to build an economy that works for everyone.

Despite Canada’s steady economic growth and near total recovery from the pandemic-era GDP slump, 53% of Canadians live paycheque-to-paycheque while 48% are $200 or less away from insolvency. The wealth gap continues to widen unsustainably, with wages stagnating even while market productivity increases. Canada’s income equality ranks low among other developed nations and continues to worsen, despite our massive GDP.

The direct financial support provided through GLBI will help individuals and families meet their basic needs and improve their purchasing power. The Canada Child Benefit, a basic income for families, grows the economy $2 for every $1 invested, keeps 250,000 families out of poverty, and contributes 450,000 jobs to the economy. A GLBI would lead to increased consumer spending on goods and services, which would in turn provide a boost to local businesses and helps to stimulate local economies. In South Korea, a UBI pilot project resulted in a 45% increase in local business revenues.

The link between cash transfers like the GLBI and local economic growth was further evidenced by pandemic relief programs such as CERB. When people received financial support, they were more likely to spend that money on local goods and services, creating a ripple effect throughout their local economy. 

With most small businesses being self-funded, a dwindling middle-class means less innovation and entrepreneurship. Since the early 2000s, Canada has seen a consistent decrease in new business start-ups. However, new research shows that 10% of people who received CERB started a business and 50% learned a new marketable skill, such as a new language. CERB, a basic income cash transfer, increased innovation and entrepreneurship.

According to the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA), a Guaranteed Livable Basic Income could grow Canada’s economy $80 billion a year and create nearly 600,000 jobs in 5 years.

The climate crisis is impacting Canada every day. Environmental crises like floods, wildfires, and drought are on the rise and that trend will continue. Industry needs to change and the people who work in those industries need to be supported through the transitions. GLBI will create an adaptive economy that prioritizes the wellbeing of all people and the planet.

Our climate is in crisis. The last eight years were the hottest on record and scientists predict that we are likely to breach the 1.5C climate threshold before 2030. Environmental disasters like floods, wildfires, and drought are on the rise and that trend will continue. We need to address the climate crisis now.

Income inequality drives wasteful carbon emissions. A recent Oxfam study estimates that the richest 1% of people produce more carbon emissions than the poorest 66% combined. Meanwhile, our taxation system is set up to benefit the ultra-rich, robbing us of the robust social support systems necessary to build thriving communities.

A GLBI would create the economic stability necessary to facilitate a just transition. Workers in extraction industries would have financial security while transitioning to new industries, and the safety net necessary to opt out of work they find ethically or environmentally destructive, forcing industries to adapt.

There is no reason that in one of the richest countries in the world, people should be living unhoused and in poverty. The crises of poverty put strain on the health care and justice systems, and create the conditions for gender-based violence. GLBI is the most effective way to eradicate poverty, support the health care and justice systems, and is our best chance at eliminating gender-based violence.

Living in poverty is linked to higher rates of disease, mental health distress, addictions, physical disability, incarceration, a shorter lifespan, and dramatically increases a person's likelihood of experiencing violence including gender-based violence.

Women who live in poverty face higher rates of sexual assault and exploitation, human trafficking, intimate partner violence and abuse, and femicide. Currently, 1 in 4 children in Canada live in poverty. 

The enormous social costs of poverty have cascading economic costs. Billions of dollars currently spent in reactive health care, emergency services, and the justice system can be diverted back to the public wallet by proactively meeting people’s basic needs. 

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls clearly stated that we cannot end violence without first meeting people’s social and economic needs. The inquiry’s Call to Justice 4.5 specifically calls for the establishment of a GLBI. 

The power of GLBI to reduce the social harms caused by poverty was illustrated by the Dauphin Basic Income Pilot during the 1970s in Manitoba, known as “Mincome”. Some of the outcomes from that initiative include a decrease in hospitalizations, a rise in the number of young people completing high school and improvements in mental health. 2020 saw the largest reduction in childhood poverty ever in Canada because of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit - the elimination of this guaranteed income benefit risks rolling back this progress but a GLBI would ensure we are doing everything we can to eradicate poverty for children and all people in Canada.