Flirting with a basic income in Canada: Were the lessons worth the risk of popular backlash?

Canada responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with a series of supports, including direct payments to workers displaced by public health measures. While not a true basic income, the experience highlighted a number of issues including challenges with implementation and intergovernmental relations that affected public opinion and must be dealt with by basic income advocates. The operation of the Canadian social-liberal welfare state informed pandemic policy making and exhibited the path dependence of a deserving/undeserving binary that resulted in conditionality. The income supports associated with the pandemic represent a pragmatic response to an exogenous shock that highlights the inadequacies of existing policy and offers the possibility of change.