Our Political Advocacy team works with local Members of Parliament and other decision-makers to advance effective global development policies in Canada.
Basic Income: the idea, its benefits & how you can get behind it.
On Thursday July 28th, Vibrant Communities Calgary, in partnership with Social Workers for Social Justice and PovertyTalks! hosted Senator Art Eggleton for an evening of conversation, connection, and learning dedicated to Basic Income. Basic Income Guarantee, or Guaranteed Annual Income, is not a new idea but one that currently seems to be gaining some traction. In concept, a Basic Income Guarantee would ensure that everyone has an income sufficient to meet basic needs and live with dignity, regardless of work status.
Senator Eggleton highlighted the urgent need to tackle poverty in Canada. “While we (including EWB) often talk about poverty in other countries, it remains a profoundly troubling issue at home as well” said Eggleton.
There is no official measure of poverty in Canada, while the 2016 Census results are not yet available, according to the 2011 Statistics Canada reports, 14.9 per cent of Canadians have “low income” (i.e. make less than half the median income). According to UNICEF’s 2016 Report on Child Well-being, a report that measures the depths of inequality in children’s well-being across rich countries, Canada ranks 26th of 35 industrialized nations with child poverty.
With more and more people in precarious employment positions (e.g. part-time or temporary work) and a growing income gap, there is a significant risk that poverty continues to grow in this Canada.
Primarily a poverty reduction strategy, basic income should significantly reduce the number of Canadians living in poverty. But in addition it potentially has many other strong benefits including:
- Reduced healthcare costs and crime rates
- Protection against precarious employment (employment that is not secure or does not provide a livable income
- Protection against employment risks resulting from climate change action and technology advancement e.g. artificial intelligence and robotics
- Providing an economic boost to stagnating economic growth
- Stimulating entrepreneurial and innovative activity and its wealth generation capability
- Enabling a more effective and efficient social justice system and significantly helping move towards a more sustainable and caring world
Has the time come for Governments to implement a Basic Income? Senator Eggleton has long been a strong supporter for poverty elimination initiatives. He indicated in his talk that there seems to be significant momentum around the basic income concept at this time and what is needed to bring it forward is additional public support and lobbying of elected officials at all levels of government. Several interest groups, including Engineers Without Borders, had information booths at the event and there was a large number of attendees.
What can you do to find out more about this powerful concept or to support moving the concept forward?
- You can contact the Calgary Chapter of Engineers Without Borders at firstname.lastname@example.org. Volunteers are urgently required to help support this initiative
- You can contact the Canadian Basic Income Network, a national interest group dedicated solely to support of the concept
- You should lobby your municipal, provincial or federal elected representatives to support the concept
Despite spending significant dollars on social justice systems, many Canadians remain poor, trapped in an inefficient and inflexible support system.
Is it time for a new and powerful approach? With your support we can make consideration of this new approach happen!