Guaranteed basic income for all

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The Leeds Grenville, Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes Green Party Electoral District Association (Leeds Grenville TIRL Greens) has resolved to stand in solidarity with other Ontarians and Canadians calling on governments to implement a Guaranteed Basic Income for all. Whereas the economic and health crisis in Ontario has been compounded by the recent Covid 19 pandemic, the time to act on this important policy initiative is now.

“There is no time in the history of Ontario where economic evidence suggests so strongly that we must act to correct economic disparities, as it does today in the midst of this pandemic and economic downturn,” said Heather Kinsley, Interim CEO of the Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Island-Rideau Lakes Greens.

Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related international human rights law, everyone has the right to food, housing, social security, a standard of living adequate for the health of oneself and one’s family, and non-discrimination including on the basis of economic status. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of the person.

Most existing income security programs (e.g., welfare) impose sanctions upon income recipients or applicants including paternalistic and stigmatizing conditions not applicable to others in society who receive income via other means. And because basic income is a form of income security by which people are ensured access to an income sufficient to help meet their basic needs and to help live with dignity, regardless of work status, it is essential that governments meet peoples’ needs by implementing this program.

In April, 2020, there were 50 Canadian Senators calling on governments to implement a Basic Income program in an open letter. They have written to the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and Finance Minister commending them for the government’s actions to date and calling for further evolution of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to implement a minimum basic income.

Evidence from a past pilot project in Manitoba in 1974 suggests that a basic liveable income is known to yield a range of societal benefits. This initiative will be an investment in Canadians that will benefit the economy. The Canadian tradition of social well being is already evidenced through programs such as the Canada Child Benefit, Old Age Security, and the Guaranteed Income Supplement; and as Citizens of Ontario and of Canada we affirm that basic income policies and programs must be progressive in their nature and thus reflect the following principles:

  1. Basic income must be promoted as a means for economic and social equity and justice, not for charity; and must be aimed at preventing poverty, reducing inequality, promoting health, supporting human resilience, enhancing freedom, and enabling human potential.
  2. Given the wealth of Ontario and of Canada, basic income must be promoted from a perspective of fiscal abundance, not scarcity or austerity.
  3. Basic income must be a regular (e.g., monthly), reliable (non-withdrawable), non-taxable, and non-stigmatizing (confidential) payment.
  4. Basic income must be accessible to all eligible persons and receipt of basic income must not be conditional upon work or any other participation or behavioural requirements.
  5. In its maximum available amount, basic income must be sufficient to allow people to meet their basic needs and to help them live a healthy and dignified life.
  6. Regional costs of living must be factored into calculation of the maximum available basic income amount, and the amount must be adjusted over time in relation to changes in costs of living.
  7. Basic income must be legislatively protected from garnishment by creditors and debt collectors.
  8. Basic income must represent a pillar of a comprehensive social security system, other pillars of which must include, but not be limited to, health and disability supports; affordable and accessible housing supports; child care supports; education and training supports, and employment supports including minimum/living wage and pay equity legislation.
  9. Basic income must align with the goal of fairer (more progressive) personal and corporate taxation, and must be funded, at least in part, with revenue derived from such taxation.

For more information, please contact Heather Kinsley, Interim CEO Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Island-Rideau Lakes Green Pary of Canada Electoral District Association: Heather.Kinsley@greenparty.ca.

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