Should Canada Adopt a Guaranteed Annual Income?


May 3, 2018 :: Dr Trevor Harrison
Moderated by Bev Muendel-Atherstone

Basic income in Canada has been debated since at least the 1930s during the Social Credit movement, but as in other parts of the western world, the discussion has increased during the last decades. Different models can be considered such as a Guaranteed Annual Income (GAI), Social Dividend or Basic Income.

William Aberhart, Premier of Alberta, was inspired by Major C. H. Douglas Social Credit theory and tried to implement a basic income for Albertans during the 1930s but was thwarted in his attempts by the Federal Government. The (GAI) model was tested in Manitoba in the 1970s in what was called the Mincome experiment. It allowed every participating family unit to receive a minimum cash benefit, with every dollar earned over the benefit amount taxed back at varying (experimented) levels.

There are some obvious impediments to the implementation of a (GAI) in Canada. For example, how would such a program impact work incentives? What would the program cost? What model is likely to be politically acceptable? Would a GAI benefit the national economy? And would it ultimately benefit low income (or non-income) workers?

The speaker will explain the different options of income support that is available through a GAI program and the results of such in places where it has been applied. More broadly, he will examine the pros and cons of GAI programs as a means of combatting inequality. Finally, he will speculate on the likelihood of such a program’s adoption in Canada and elsewhere.

Speaker: Dr Trevor Harrison

Dr. Trevor Harrison is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Lethbridge and Director of Parkland Institute. He was born and raised in Edmonton. He holds a B.A. from the University of Winnipeg, an M.A. from the University of Calgary, and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Alberta. He worked on Manitoba’s Guaranteed Annual Income experiment in the 1970s.??His broad areas of specialty include political sociology, political economy, and public policy. In addition to numerous journal articles and book chapters, Dr. Harrison is the author, co-author, or co-editor of nine books. His op-ed columns frequently appear in both local and national newspapers

Moderator: Bev Muendel-Atherstone

Date: Thursday, May 3, 2018
Time: Doors open 11:30 am, Presentation 12 noon, buffet lunch 12:30 pm, Q&A 1 – 1:30 pm
Location: Royal Canadian Legion (north door) 324 Mayor Magrath Dr. S. Lethbridge
Cost: $14 buffet lunch with desert & coffee/tea/juice or $2 coffee/tea/juice. RSVP not required


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