Christian Science Monitor
Jessie Golem knows the stigma of poverty. She’s been called a leech and parasite. She’s heard more times than she can count, “Go get a job.”
In fact, she always had multiple jobs. But piano lessons, gigs in dog walking, and a budding photography business – a 60-to-80-hour weekly hustle – left her just enough to pay her rent in Hamilton.
It wasn’t until she became part of a pilot program in Ontario, receiving a basic income supplement of $1,400 a month, that her working life finally came together. “It was really awesome watching my photography business grow,” she says. “I drew up a whole business plan and had a financial projection that I would only have needed to be on the basic income pilot for two of the three years.”
That pilot ended after its first year with a change in provincial government in 2018 – frustrating the centuries-old idea of a guaranteed basic wage that has never taken off beyond limited experiments in the last 50 years. But now that millions of Canadians have experienced what it’s like to lose a job or had hours cut back with no recourse, now that citizens around the world have only been able to find a way forward with a government check, an idea that once lived on the fringe has become more mainstream.
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