It is undeniable that poverty and income inequality are two of Canada’s most pressing issues. But it is less clear what policy solutions need to be enacted to address these problems.

In response to these challenges, some policy practitioners have called for the implementation of an unconditional Basic Income that would be accessible to all Canadians. Bill S-233, An Act to develop a national framework for a guaranteed livable basic income, is a clear example of this response. Proponents of a Basic Income present the policy framework as a simple and direct response to poverty, on the grounds that sending people a cheque through the tax system seems efficient.

However, a host of researchers have called into question the underlying assumptions about the causes of poverty that proponents of a basic income take for granted. For instance, is basic income the best tool to achieve a just society? Could other social policies be put in place to achieve the desired outcome more holistically and efficiently? The book Basic Income and a Just Society, published last year by the IRPP, takes such an approach.

This conversation between IRPP CEO and President Jennifer Ditchburn and Senator Kim Pate – a sponsor of Bill S-233 – tackles these questions, which have been at the centre of the IRPP’s and Senator Pate’s work for years.

Download for free. Tweet your questions and comments to @IRPP.

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Jennifer Ditchburn
Jennifer Ditchburn is the President and CEO of the Institute for Research on Public Policy. From 2016 to 2021, she was the Editor-in-Chief of the IRPP’s influential digital magazine, Policy Options. Prior to joining the IRPP, Jennifer spent two decades covering national and parliamentary affairs for The Canadian Press and for CBC Television. She is the co-editor with Graham Fox of The Harper Factor: Assessing a Prime Minister’s Policy Legacy (McGill-Queen’s).
Kim Pate
Kim Pate is a senator. She is an adjunct law professor who has also spent the past four decades working with and on behalf of marginalized, victimized, criminalized and institutionalized youth, men and women.