Conference Report: Montreal conference a BIG success

On the 15th and 16th April a conference was held in Montréal, Quebec, entitled Basic Income at a Time of Economic Upheaval: A Path to Justice and Stability? The event was organized by the Centre de Recherche en Éthique de l’Université de Montréal (CREUM), in cooperation with BIEN Canada and the USBIG Network. The event attracted almost a hundred participants from North America and Europe, including a number of people who had not previously attended Basic Income conferences or meetings.

The highlights of the conference included presentations by Dr. Louise Haagh of the University of York (UK) on ‘Basic Income and Public Finance’, by Dr. Guy Standing, University of Bath, on ‘Basic Income for the Precariat’, and by Senator Eduardo Suplicy (São Paulo, Brazil) on ‘Steps Towards a Citizen’s Basic Income’.

A ‘political panel’ featured speakers from Quebec, Canada and the United States who focused on political openings and challenges for achieving BI in North America. The panel consisted of Amélie Chateauneuf, spokesperson for the Front Commun des Personnes Assistées Sociales du Québec (FCPASQ); Tony Martin, Member of Parliament and poverty critic for the New Democratic Party; Rob Rainer, Executive Director for Canada Without Poverty; Al Sheahen, long-time activist with USBIG; and Canadian Senator Hugh Segal. The panel was chaired by Sheila Regehr, Director of the National Council of Welfare of Canada.

Other sessions at the conference addressed Education for a BIG Society (Sally Lerner), Pragmatic Guaranteed Income Architecture for Canada (Rob Rainer and Jim Mulvale), Exporting the Alaska Model (Karl Widerquist), the Ecological Imperative for a BIG (Anita Vaillancourt, Gianne Broughton, and Michael Howard), Economic Crisis and Income Security (Chandra Pasma, James Bryan, and Philip Harvey), Basic Income funded through Common Assets (Gary Flomenhoft), Basic Income and Consumption Tax (André Presse), and Geonomics (Jeffrey Smith).

A pre-conference workshop was also held, which featured three excellent presentations:

  • Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon, University of Oxford, ‘Labour Behavior, Basic Income and Social Influence: A Simulation Experiment’
  • Evelyn Forget, University of Manitoba, ‘Canada’s Experiment with Social Justice: Using health Administration Data to Assess the Outcomes of a BI Field Experiment’ (based on the Mincome Project that ran Dauphin, Manitoba in the 1970s)
  • Guy Standing, University of Bath, ‘Basic Income Pilot Schemes: Ten Imperatives for Design and Evaluation’

Papers from the conference will be posted on the website of USBIG in the near future

A huge vote of thanks goes to Jürgen DeWispelaere, currently a Senior Research Fellow at CREUM (and also Co-Editor of Basic Income Studies) who took the lead role in planning and organizing this conference. Thanks also go to Jürgen’s colleagues at CREUM for financial, practical and logistical support for this event.

BIEN Canada and USBIG are planning future joint events, building on the strong interest in, and excellent programme of, this conference in Montreal.