Have your say: Is universal basic income a good way to offset impact of automation?

As the working world shifts toward automation, some have posited the idea of a universal basic income to solve the problems presented by this trend.

report released this month by Deloitte Canada and the Human Resources Professionals Association noted employment laws and public policy are struggling to catch up with the changing Canadian workforce. It recommended that the government consider a universal basic income, saying it was time to rethink the idea and open up a discussion.

Read: Employers, policy-makers urged to rethink future of work

“Given the prospect of job losses due to automation, many policy thinkers have revived the idea of establishing a universal basic income,” stated the report. “To date, the debate has centred primarily around the affordability of such a program; tax claw backs may be one solution. As for the actual design of a [universal basic income] program, a vast number of options are available.” 

The report also presents questions to consider, such as who would be eligible for the basic income, how it would be funded, how it would be affected by employment income and whether it would encourage entrepreneurism.

Last year, Ontario rolled out a basic income pilot project in Brantford, Brant County, Hamilton, Lindsay and Thunder Bay, along with a number of other municipalities and townships. The provincial government intends to investigate how the program will help citizens living on a low income, and improve outcomes in areas such as food security, mental health, health-care usage, employment and participation in the labour market.

Read: Ontario to move ahead with basic income pilot

Dauphin, Man. tested a basic income program for three years in the 1970s and found improvements in its population’s health, education for younger people, as well as social improvements such as fewer arrests and traffic accidents.

What do you think? Is a universal basic income the right way to help offset issues caused by loss of employment due to automation? Or is it the wrong choice, and an expensive endeavour that would discourage people from working? Have your say in this week’s online poll.

Last week’s poll asked if it was time for the government to pass its bill allowing for target-benefit pension plans. The results were fairly split: 34 per cent of respondents said yes, target-benefit plans represent the best balance between defined contribution and defined benefit pensions; 28 per cent said no, they are a significant downgrade in pension security; and 38 per cent said the plans are fine, but that it’s wrong to allow for conversion of accrued benefits like the government is proposing.

Read: Can the feds overcome opposition to pass target-benefit pension bill?