Three distinguished researchers have been appointed by the Government of British Columbia to lead a B.C.-focused exploration of basic income as part of the Province’s efforts reduce poverty and prepare for the future economic climate. (Black Press files)

Researchers to explore potential of basic income in B.C.

According to a news release issued by Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, three distinguished researchers have been appointed by the Government of British Columbia to lead a B.C.-focused exploration of basic income as part of the Province’s efforts reduce poverty and prepare for the future economic climate.

Shane Simpson, the Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction states that the ultimate goal of the project is to understand whether the idea of a basic income would benefit those living in poverty in B.C.

“The researchers will look at whether a basic income is a viable option to reduce poverty, build financial security, and increase inclusion and well-being,” says Simpson. “This is a complex area of study, and our government looks forward to learning more about how to enhance the income-support system, to achieve measurable and lasting improvements for people living in poverty.”

David Green, of the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia (UBC), will chair the expert committee, per the news release. Joining him will be Jonathan Rhys Kesselman, from the School of Public Policy at Simon Fraser University and Lindsay Tedds, from the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary.

“Much of my work centres on policies that can reduce inequality and create a more just society,” says Green. “I am pleased to have an opportunity to contribute to an in-depth examination of the implications and benefits of a basic income and enhanced income support structures here in B.C.”

The committee’s overarching work will be to oversee independent research to test the feasibility of a basic-income pilot project in British Columbia. Furthermore, it will examine how basic-income principles might be implemented and used to improve the existing income and social-support system.

Additionally, the committee will reportedly consider the impact that advances in technology and automation, and other shifts, are predicted to have on the labour market over the next several decades, according to the news release.

The work relates to a commitment in the Confidence and Supply Agreement between government and the B.C. Green Party caucus.

“Amidst trends like automation, part-time and contract work, the nature of our economy and the jobs within it are rapidly shifting,” says Andrew Weaver, the B.C. Green caucus leader. “There is strong evidence that basic income can provide greater income security, while saving costs in other areas. We proposed exploring how basic income could work in B.C., because government should have a plan for the changes on the horizon. The panelists are highly qualified, knowledgeable and creative thinkers. I am excited to work with them on this innovative project.”

Simulations as to how various basic-income models would work with B.C.’s population will also be included in the committee’s research. These proposed simulations will ideally help identify the potential impacts and financial implications of different approaches and economic conditions on B.C. citizens.

The committee will begin work this summer and will be assisted by researchers at the University of British Columbia.

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