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ISBN: 9781771135474

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The Case for Basic Income

Freedom, Security, Justice


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.


Jamie Swift

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

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.

Dr. Danielle Martin

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.

Chapter Title Abstract Contributors Pages Year Price
In the forward, Dr. Martin links basic income to human health, and notes this link is more obvious than ever because of the COVID-19 pandemic. ; 8 $0.80
In the book’s introduction, the authors suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the failure of free-market fundamentalism. They believe that livable basic income would enhance freedom … ; ; 13 $1.30
This chapter highlights the disparate impacts of COVID-19 on low-wage "essential" workers, racialized populations, and women; the pandemic revealed that many Canadians suffer from … ; ; 30 $3.00
In this chapter, various basic income schemes in Canada are detailed, from William Aberhart’s Social Credit Party to the famous "Mincome" project in Dauphin, Manitoba. The chapter … ; ; 35 $3.50
This chapter covers the short-lived basic income project in Ontario, from it’s inception to its cancellation by the newly-elected Ford government. ; ; 23 $2.30
In this chapter, Swift and Power outline the Basic Income pilot project that took place in Lindsay, Ontario, and the various groups of ativists who made the project possible. ; ; 27 $2.70
This chapters explores Ontario’s basic income project in Hamilton, focusing on how basic income can improve public health. ; ; 25 $2.50
In this chapter, the authors focus on Jodi Dean, a single mother in Hamilton who was a basic income recipient. ; ; 29 $2.90
This chapter profiles another resident of Hamilton who participated in the basic income pilot. Unlike other participants, James Collura was not disabled, not on social assistance, and did not … ; ; 29 $2.90
In the concluding chapter, the authors reconsider what counts as work, with an emphasis on the importance of care work. ; ; 7 $0.70
A glossary of important individuals and concepts ; ; 7 $0.70