Changes in Canadian public policy tend to be incremental, but a groundswell seems to be building for a plan that could radically remake our social benefits structure.

The concept is simple. Replace the raft of income-support provisions currently administered, means-tested, audited and doled out by various levels of government – welfare, community housing allowances, employment insurance – with a single benefit. It could be run through the tax system. If your income is below a certain level, you get a cheque.

It’s time to test the assumptions in the real world. Launch some guaranteed annual income pilot programs. Let’s see how theory translates into practice in Canada.