Thank you for underscoring the urgent need for “basic income” in your column of June 16 (3Rs… Rants, Raves & Rumours, June 16, print edition). As members of GASP [Basic Income], we appreciate the opportunity to share some important information with our Meaford community. Grand(m)others Act to Save the Planet (GASP) is a grassroots, non-partisan group of grandmothers and others who care deeply about the world the future generations will inherit. www.Gasp4change.org
What Is Basic Income All About?
In Canada, most of us are proud of the social safety net that has developed over the last 65 years. We are a nation of people who care for each other. We should do it because it’s the fair, economical, and humane thing to do.
Too often the level of financial support provided to individuals who cannot work leaves them without enough money to survive (never mind thrive or flourish). Food insecurity is very widespread and the need for Food Banks has significantly increased over the last 50 years. They were originally meant to be temporary.
In Ontario, the poverty line for a single person is $19,930. The income provided by Ontario Works is $7,452, leaving a $12,478 deficit. For an adult with one child, the poverty line is $28,185 and the payment is $13,497, leaving a deficit of $14,688. This is unconscionable! Something must be done!
Ensuring the adequate funding of health care, education, and childcare is essential to our success as a society. The goal of Basic Income is to eliminate the large and unmanageable gap between required income and the present provincial support system. CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) served as a reasonable model for Basic Income. Already, all three levels of government in PEI are eager to start BI throughout their province.
Some taxpayers worry that monthly support payments will encourage people who could be working, to stay home – on the couch. Numerous studies confirm that this mindset is a myth. Basic Income will encourage employment and ensure that only those in need receive financial support. Extensive studies around the world have proven it. For a full review of the experience of some of the people who were positively impacted by Basic Income watch the YouTube by BICYN “What Basic Income Bought Me”:
Just as childless couples pay for the education of children at large, we should be willing to support people in need of Basic Income. It is one significant method needed to build a prosperous community. Healthy people contribute to health care even when they rarely use it. Poverty increases health care costs and lack of education keeps people below the poverty line. Many of us have heard the term ‘working poor’. These folks too often enter the workforce at low paying jobs and, in order to sustain themselves and their families, they need continuous financial support. Without adequate and affordable housing, families/individuals may have to move frequently. This lifestyle is not ideal for children as they need a stable living environment and good nutrition so that they can concentrate on schoolwork and have an opportunity to reach their full potential.
Our advocacy group believes Basic Income should exist in every province and territory. Our society must demand and support BI. We have just endured a two year pandemic with possibly more to come. The bottom line is one way or another we pay for the people who need Basic Income as CERB has shown us.
Karen Thompson, Chair of the Basic Income Committee
Debbie Hickey, Member