Income Security is one’s ability to pay for their basic needs without fear of losing their income source. Factors such as lower minimum wage rates and temporary/casual employment can contribute to income insecurity.
There are a few possible policy options to increase the amount of income security in Canada. One option is increasing the minimum wage to a living wage. Alberta recently made steps to come close to this policy option. On October 1, 2018, Alberta increased the minimum wage to $15 per hour. However, the United Way of Alberta estimates that at least $16.31 per hour is necessary for an individual to afford basic needs.
Basic income is another policy option to try to achieve income security. Basic income is different than other forms of social assistance in that it guarantees a minimum income level to individuals regardless of their employment status. Ontario recently launched a basic income pilot project that would give about $17,000 per year to individuals who qualified and $24,000 per year for qualifying couples (Government of Ontario, 2018). The project was going to measure outcomes such as food security, mental health, healthcare usage, housing stability, education and training, and employment and labour market participation. However, the Ontario basic income pilot project will wind down as of March 2019.
British Columbia is currently in the exploratory phase of a similar basic income pilot project. In order to know the efficacy of basic income on a larger scale, it will first need to be implemented and researched extensively by a province.