Testing guaranteed annual income

Posted on February 16, 2016 in Social Security Debates

TheGlobeandMail.com – Opinion/Letters to the Editorrial – Re: Is ‘Cash For Life’ Good Social Policy? editorial (Feb. 15):
Feb. 16, 2016.   Evelyn Forget, Kierans-Jannigan, Ron Hikel / Peter R. Saunders

Income Tests

We support annual-income pilot projects, but would like to clarify the comment that “governments can be relied upon to screw things up, as they arguably did in Dauphin, Man.”

The Mincome program ran in Winnipeg and Dauphin in the mid-1970s, and delivered a guaranteed annual income to target families. Data were collected but no evaluation was conducted because funding for analysis was cut when the government changed in 1976 and the project lost political support. Researchers Wayne Simpson and Derek Hum found that total hours worked fell a little, mostly because married women used Mincome to “buy” longer parental leaves, and boys took their first full-time job at 18 rather than at 16. Evelyn Forget showed that hospitalizations and doctor visits fell in Dauphin relative to a matched control group, largely for mental health reasons, and high school completion rates increased.

Evidence shows that Mincome was a resounding success and therefore we endorse your call for a renewed set of pilots.

Evelyn Forget, Kierans-Janigan Visiting Scholar, Massey College; and Ron Hikel, former executive director of Mincome, Toronto


Guaranteed annual income appears to be a progressive and rational policy. The elephant in the room is that it lets government and business off the hook. Governments need no longer maintain the pretense of full employment, and companies can continue to be subsidized by the state, offering low-paid, part-time work to fewer people.

Peter R. Saunders, Toronto

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