Factors Influencing Canadian Public Opinion Toward Basic Income: A Critical Review of Literature

Yasmeen Mohiuddin


The disruption to employment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and introduction of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit has reignited debate about Canada's social safety net and the welfare state in general. The idea of a basic income is not new but has never been implemented at a federal or provincial level. This paper critically examines some of the literature on basic income in Canada as it relates to public opinion on such a policy in theory. There are many academic arguments both in favour of and opposed to basic income, but significantly less research is available on levels and variance of voter support for such a benefit. Most of the literature synthesized is broadly focused on a basic income framework, basic income support in Europe and attitudes toward social assistance in Canada. Drawing almost entirely from peer-reviewed journal articles, this review considers some of the key economic and moral themes surrounding a hypothetical basic income. It also explores how variables, such as region and income, as well as the use of specific terminology in political communication, influence public perception of various social assistance schemes. From a policymaking lens, it is evident that further research - and further education on the part of the public - is required for a clearer understanding of a post-COVID Canadian perspective on basic income.


Basic income, welfare, public policy, public opinion, literature review

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