Dimensions:8.25in x 5.25 x 0.66 in | 320 gr
Page Count:264 pages
Inequality is up. Decent work is down. Free market fundamentalism has been exposed as a tragic failure. In a job market upended by COVID-19—with Canadians caught in the grip of precarious labour, stagnant wages, a climate crisis, and the steady creep of automation—an ever-louder chorus of voices calls for a liveable and obligation-free basic income.
Could a basic income guarantee be the way forward to democratize security and intervene where the market economy and social programs fail? Jamie Swift and Elaine Power scrutinize the politics and the potential behind a radical proposal in a post-pandemic world: that wealth should be built by a society, not individuals. And that we all have an unconditional right to a fair share.
In these pages, Swift and Power bring to the forefront the deeply personal stories of Canadians who participated in the 2017–2019 Ontario Basic Income Pilot; examine the essential literature and history behind the movement; and answer basic income’s critics from both the right and left.
Kingston writer Jamie Swift is the author of a dozen books, most recently The Vimy Trap, or How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Great War (with Ian McKay), finalist for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing and the Canadian Historical Association Prize for the Best Scholarly Book in Canadian History. He has held the Michener Foundation fellowship for public service journalism and was a longtime documentary producer for CBC-Radio’s “Ideas.” In addition to the writing life, he is a social justice advocate. He taught “Critical Perspectives on Business” at the Smith School of Business, Queen’s University for many years.
Elaine Power is a Professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Studies and Head of the Department of Gender Studies at Queen’s University. Her research lies at the intersection of food, poverty and public health. She created and taught the Queen’s course, HLTH 101, The Social Determinants of Health, which explores the “upstream” determinants of health, including income, racism and white privilege, education, gender, colonialism and their intersections. She is the co-founder of the Kingston Action Group for a Basic Income Guarantee and a passionate advocate for basic income.
Danielle Martin is the Executive Vice-President and Chief Medical Executive of Women’s College Hospital (WCH), where she is also a practicing family physician. Danielle’s policy, clinical and academic expertise, combined with her commitment to health equity, have made her a highly regarded health system leader. She regularly provides expertise and formal advice to lawmakers both nationally and abroad. Danielle holds a Masters of Public Policy from the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto. She is an active scholar and an internationally recognized researcher on health system issues. As a well-recognized media spokesperson, Danielle frequently provides commentary on health issues through her work as a health contributor at the CBC. In conjunction with her work at WCH, Danielle is an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto. The recipient of many awards and accolades, in 2019 she became the youngest physician ever to receive the F.N.G Starr Award, the highest honour available to Canadian Medical Association members.
For forty long years, Ayn Rand–blessed politicos have preached that “the greatest good” belongs to those who achieve the “greatest gain” (even if by theft or fraud), so “labour pools” and “capital flows”—”efficiently.” But the COVID-19 pandemic—like the Great Depression nearly a century ago—has proven the free market a hoax. There’s no way for democratic societies to achieve “Freedom, Security, Justice,” unless citizens demand that governments return renminbi (the people’s money) to the people, in part by providing a basic income.- George Elliott Clarke, E.J. Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature, University of Toronto
The COVID-19 pandemic has surely taught us that we need societal resilience. This book adds to the growing body of evidence that only a basic income as an anchor of a new income distribution system would provide us with that resilience.- Guy Standing, author of Basic Income: And How We Can Make It Happen
In the not-too-distant future, Canadians will look back and try to remember how we made possible a guarantee that everyone would have an income sufficient to live a modest life with dignity. This wonderful book captures the stories of the tireless activists and real basic income experts—those who tried to survive with the broken social systems of the past. It documents the opportunities lost when Ontario cancelled its prescient basic income guarantee experiment, but it also captures the hope and optimism that will ultimately prevail.- Evelyn Forget, author of Basic Income for Canadians: From the COVID-19 Emergency to Financial Security for All
There is no economic or moral justification for the poverty afflicting millions of people in Canada—one of the richest places on earth. In this timely, passionate, and convincing book, Jamie Swift and Elaine Power invoke the powerful vision of basic income to inspire a fundamental rethinking of poverty and how to fight it.- Jim Stanford, economist and director, Centre for Future Work
The Case for Basic Income is an up-to-date, moving, and persuasive study that couldn’t be more timely in pandemic times.- Emma Donaghue, author of Room and The Pull of the Stars
An interesting and timely book on what basic income can mean to so many people—a leap from the realm of necessity into the realm of freedom. Jamie Swift and Elaine Power vividly capture the struggles and dreams of the precious working class in Canada, allowing people with experiences of poverty and aspirations for self-betterment to speak for themselves and make themselves heard.- Mohammad Ferdosi, co-author, Southern Ontario’s Basic Income Experience
This book should be required reading for every current and aspiring politician. Swift and Power brilliantly demonstrate the incredible and transformative potential of guaranteeing a basic liveable income in respecting fundamental human rights, like our right to food.- Paul Taylor, executive director, Foodshare Toronto
This urgent case study brings to life a grassroots movement whose time has come. Swift and Power write passionately from the inside, shining a vital lens on Ontario's fight for basic income.- John Greyson, queer filmmaker/activist
In this timely contribution, Swift and Power make a powerful case for basic income as a transformative poverty reduction strategy with the potential to reinforce a welfare state apparatus eroded by decades of neoliberal policies. The authors use the personal narratives of former OBIP participants to illustrate in vivid detail how basic income can change the lives of those who receive it for the better.- Tom McDowell, department of politics and public administration, Ryerson University
Anyone interested in social justice should read this book. Swift and Power trace the emergence of the idea of a basic income in Canada and globally. They focus on how the Ontario pilot made a real change in the lives of those who participated. Using the words of participants, they tell a story of hope. Some see the cost of a basic income as out of reach. However, reading this book will convince you it would be money well spent!- Wayne Lewchuk, co-author, Southern Ontario’s Basic Income Experience
In a most touching and compelling manner, the authors underscore the vital role that the Ontario Basic Income Pilot played in the lives of participants. They also identify how a guaranteed livable basic income could help address current economic, social, and health crises, as well as the massive systemic inequality laid bare by COVID-19 and the patchwork of federal, provincial, and municipal responses. In addition to challenging myths and discriminatory attitudes of critics and naysayers of various political persuasions, the authors discuss how everyone will benefit from basic income initiatives, in no small part because of the ways they provide insurance against current and future unpredictable life events.- The Honourable Kim Pate, C.M., Senator for Ontario
This book links many of the most pressing concerns of our time in a fresh and imaginative way.- The Catalyst