Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis

Potential Economic Impacts and Reach of Basic Income Programs

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Interest in basic income has increased in recent years and the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the idea of a guaranteed minimum income for Canadians into the national spotlight. Canada already has a modest basic income program in place for people with children—the Canada Child Benefit—whose economic contributions CANCEA has previously examined. This report examines the benefits to families receiving payments under two potential basic income programs and the possible economic impacts of the programs, as well as how these impacts are shaped by the way in which a program is funded.

Both basic income programs considered guarantee individuals an annual income of $24,000 and could lift 3.2 million families out of poverty. Both programs could also make positive contributions to Canada’s economy, depending on how they are funded.

The report presents an analysis of the potential short- and long-term economic impacts of the potential basic income programs in terms of GPD, jobs, government revenues, and other metrics, highlighting how drawing on households, businesses, and government debt to varying degrees shapes these outcomes. The report also explores the notion of sustainability for basic income programs and examines the outcomes for the two programs under funding scenarios that see payback to government within 25 years, lower and middle income families as net beneficiaries, and positive economic impacts over the short and long term.

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