What is Universal Basic Income?

The idea of the Universal Basic income (or UBI) is not new. In Canada, it was first proposed in the 1930s and the concept has enjoyed a prominent spotlight in various political climates since.

UBI can be defined as “a social safety net, or income floor intended to cover basic needs.”1 Party members from across the political spectrum have shown support for UBI, but opinions on how it would be implemented, for whom, and how much, varies greatly. The concept of UBI is often muddled by other terms, such as the Guaranteed Livable Income, Citizens’ wage, Social Dividend or State Bonus, just to name a few.

The pandemic has re-ignited conversations around UBI and EPL hosted a panel on the subject to cut through the confusion. We welcomed Evelyn Forget, a leading authority on basic income in Canada and economist in the School of Medicine at the University of Manitoba; Jenna van Draanen, an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing and the School of Public Health at the University of Washington; Rebecca Graff-McRae, a Research Manager for the Parkland Institute at the University of Alberta; and, Hannah Pazderka, an adjunct professor in Psychiatry at the University of Alberta and Basic Income Canada Network board member. This live event was recorded in December 2020.

If you are interested in learning more, consider borrowing books by Evelyn Forget, UBI in a Canadian context and specifically in the context of post-COVID Canada. A Basic Income for Alberta report addresses many questions about UBI in the Alberta context, and Basic Income Canada Network also offers lots of resources on their website.

Still have questions? You can find more titles in our collection, or chat with our knowledgeable staff to find more on the topic!


  1. https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/parklandinstitute/pages/1773/attachments/original/1579618093/basicincomeforalberta.pdf?1579618093
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