Ten Ontario mayors call for basic income policy

By Roderick Benns

Publisher of Leaders and Legacies, a social purpose news site

Ten mayors from cities and towns across Ontario are speaking out in favour of basic income guarantee policy.

Mayors across Canada were asked to complete a national survey by Leaders and Legacies, in order to gauge municipal level support for a basic income guarantee policy. Results are slowing being released as data is gathered.

The mayors listed below have all indicated support for basic income policy at various levels:

  • Gil Brocanier – Cobourg
  • David Canfield — Kenora
  • Sandra Cooper – Collingwood
  • Geoffrey Dawe – Aurora
  • Aldo DiCarlo – Amherstburg
  • John Henry – Oshawa
  • Ted Luciani – Thorold
  • Dan Mathieson – Stratford
  • Nelson Santos – Kingsville
  • Gord Wauchope – Innisfil

Above: Mayor Dan Mathieson of Stratford (left) and Mayor Ted Luciani of Thorold

A common definition of a basic income guarantee ensures everyone an income sufficient to meet basic needs and live with dignity, regardless of work status. It involves a regular, reliable distribution of money from government to people to help ensure total income sufficient to meet common, basic needs.

Mayor Nelson Santos of Kingsville says that a basic income guarantee policy would align well with his own town’s municipal goals, even though he believes it is a “challenging initiative.” However, he sees it as “very fitting for our region’s poverty reduction strategy” in Windsor-Essex County.

In Cobourg, Mayor Gil Brocanier notes that it would allow his town to change its focus “from poverty reduction, homelessness, and affordable housing” to work on other social issues, given that income security for citizens would be more assured.

He also believes a basic income policy would help the business community by providing people “with more buying power.”

Brocanier also sees some health benefits down the road, with better diets possible with more income. Students should also benefit, he believes, because they will be able to focus on their classroom learning without undue worry about poverty.

The Cobourg mayor cautions that any such guaranteed annual income policy would require upfront education for the public, since all benefits won’t be immediately visible.

In Thorold, Ontario, Mayor Ted Luciani says the “income gap between rich and poor is increasing” every moment.

“We have to start closing this gap,” he says, so “let’s get it done.”

Luciani also sees more secure income for people as a way to create a better foundation for more people, such as eventually buying a home, which helps municipal tax bases.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo of Amherstberg says he supports basic income policy, but not in isolation of also finding a way to create “higher paying, higher skilled job creation.”

Kenora Mayor David Canfield adds that it’s important to base a guaranteed annual income “on need and affordability” and to encourage people to improve their circumstances through working for a living wherever possible.