‘Poverty sucks the life from you’ says B.C. woman

Roderick Benns

Ashly Rigby, 36, had a dream of one day becoming a nurse. No one in her family had any post-secondary education and she was determined to be first, according to what she told herself in Grade 11. She didn’t expect to be pregnant during the Grade 12 school year, though, a fact that “derailed everything.”

The Vancouver, B.C. woman descended into depression and lived solely on income assistance for many years. Now, working part-time with dreams of school this fall, she hopes to reverse her fortune in the very near future.

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Ontario man believes basic income would lessen use of emergency services

Roderick Benns

He was born in Blind River, the small northern Ontario town immortalized by music legend, Neil Young, in the song Long May You Run. Perhaps ironically, that might be just what Pete Spence did for much of his life. He got in trouble with the law early on. He moved from town to town. When he thought he was close to figuring his life out, a negative experience always seemed to intervene. Now 49, he lives in a rented room in North Bay, still trying to figure out how to live his life.

Early Days

Pete was born into a working class family, along with an older sister who died five years ago. His father worked at a large uranium plant and his mother worked part-time as a cashier for several local businesses. He doesn’t remember the feeling of doing without, except when it came time for field trips during his school-age years.

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Nova Scotia man’s struggles could have been avoided with basic income

Roderick Benns

It has been many years of struggle for Wayne MacNaughton, 64, living on welfare and now counting the days until he turns 65 when his federal pension kicks in.

The Halifax, Nova Scotia man lives on about $1,000 a month right now, living carefully and prudently. He advocates for others living in poverty and wonders if he would be in the position he was now, had there been an alternative so many years ago.

Early Years

He was a Toronto boy from the beginning, for the first 33 years of his life. Growing up in a working class environment, his father worked at a paper box factory while his mother did office accounting work. Both parents had modest salaries.

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Basic income would have changed Sudbury woman’s life

Roderick Benns

By late summer’s evening, many people in Kitchener’s working and middle class neighbourhoods place their recyclables at the side of the road. That’s when you would often see Birgit Lingenberg pushing her walker, and her daughter Christian pushing a metal buggy – even in the pouring rain – collecting stray bottles for cash.

One time a car slowed down and someone handed Birgit $50, a windfall still lodged in her mind to this day. It wasn’t an ideal life, the one that was handed to her, but it was the one she knew and she always found ways to survive.

Of course this was the middle, not the beginning.

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Ontario releases basic income consultation feedback

Ontario is releasing a report that summarizes the feedback gathered from thousands of people across the province on how to design and deliver a basic income pilot. 

Basic income is a payment to eligible families or individuals that ensures a minimum income level. It is designed to help people meet their basic needs while supporting long-term social and economic prosperity and security for everyone. 

More than 35,000 people and organizations shared their ideas on a range of topics including who should be eligible for a basic income, which communities to include, how a basic income should be delivered and how the pilot should be evaluated during the consultations.

 


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Yellowknife woman says struggles would be lessened under freedom of basic income

Roderick Benns

Having the power and freedom to leave unhealthy relationships is just one of the reasons a Yellowknife woman supports the idea of a basic income guarantee for all Canadians.

Christine Barker, 46, says 15 years ago she got involved with a man who couldn’t hold down a job and who she later realized had undiagnosed mental health issues. This caused a great deal of upheaval and, in tandem with other reasons, led to a downward spiral of poverty for her. It is a freefall she has not yet been able to halt.

Early Days

Christine was 10 years old when her mother and father uprooted their middle class lives in Ottawa for the charm and challenge of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Her father, a civil servant, had gotten a federal government transfer. Her mother was also a civil servant and found a new government job within six months of being in the small capital city.

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Quebec man, 62, says basic income would have made life easier during hard financial times

In a life filled with ups and downs, including a long-term relationship split and a bankruptcy, Pierre Madden says that along the way a basic income would have helped him out a great deal and prevented unnecessary stress.

Now, trapped in a call centre position at age 62, making a few dollars more than minimum wage, he’s hanging on until retirement when his federal pension kicks in.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Pierre is an educated man, has a family, and is a trained lawyer. As often happens with many people’s lives, though, there were a few curve balls in store.

Early Years

Pierre grew up in middle class Montreal, Quebec, the city where he still resides.

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