In February 2016, the government of Ontario announced a pilot project to study Basic Income. A guaranteed or basic income can take different forms but at its fundamentals, aims to ensure everyone an income that is sufficient to meet their basic needs and the right to live a life of dignity, regardless of their work status. Although economic realities are shaped by political positions and policies, they must also be informed by, and supportive of, a set of broader human values.
The organizers of the Basic Income Initiative aim to articulate such a set of values and principles that will inform the development and overall understanding of the Basic Income model, and the outcomes of the pilot project in Ontario. At the heart of this vision stands a commitment to the dignity of the human person. By combining insights from faith based and Indigenous traditions - many of which overlap with secular values - the organizers of this conference intend to present a vision in which people find meaning, purpose and fulfillment in relationship with and in service to each other. We aim to demonstrate that religious traditions can play a unique role in modeling types of communities that take seriously a commitment to social transformation and respect for human dignity.
Respect – in ideology and in practice - for this conception of human dignity demands recognition of certain inalienable human rights. These rights are not limited to civil or political rights such as freedom of conscience and expression, but must include a broad range of socio-economic rights that guarantee basic human needs are met. We believe that various levels of government must play a greater role in ensuring that these socio-economic rights are realized.
It is our hope that the Basic Income Initiative will provide a framework for productive dialogue with professionals in a variety of fields. Our ultimate goal is to utilize faith-based and Indigenous insights and values, strengthened by contributions from a wide range of additional fields and disciplines, to support the adoption of a guaranteed annual income. By meeting basic material needs, it is our belief that this initiative will further promote human dignity and facilitate individual fulfillment within the broader context of the common good.