Julia Taylor knows all about the power of a basic income, although she wasn’t a part of the Ontario Basic Income Pilot that occurred in Lindsay, Hamilton, and Thunder Bay area. Taylor’s ‘basic income’ was her Canada Child Benefit, something nearly four million Canadians receive.
“Receiving that benefit topped up our income so I didn’t have to go back to work (right away) — it was my guaranteed basic income,” Taylor says.
Like basic income policy, the Canada Child Benefit comes with no strings attached for families.
“While I was at home,” says Taylor, “I was able to delve into my passions and devote a lot of hours into local initiatives, policy, and advocacy through volunteer work.”
She says that it was through having the time to volunteer that she was able to hone in on and develop her passions and skills. She also met great colleagues who inspired her and who also made excellent resources and connections for future jobs.
Taylor is the owner of Country Cupboard in Fenelon Falls, but she doesn’t think owning her own business would have happened without the hand up of the Canada Child Benefit.
“I strongly believe that I would not be a business owner, doing a job that I love, where I can make a difference in our community if I wasn’t given the freedom to explore my interests through government supplements,” says Taylor.
Hailey Bridgestone (real name withheld by request), of Lindsay, is currently receiving the Canada Child Benefit and notes that in the beginning, when she was on maternity leave, the extra ‘basic income’ it provided helped out a great deal.
“I was able to afford diapers and necessary items,” she says, and now her son is pre-school age.
When he was almost one year old and Bridgestone knew she was returning to work, she set up a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) and savings account for him.
“I was able to send the majority of that money to his account because I no longer depended on (it) and it was always meant to be spent on him — so what better way than to prepare for his future?”
Now, Bridgestone is expecting her second child and maternity leave won’t be enough to cover her expenses.
She is taking no more than a year off from work, since she is only paid at 55 per cent of her wage.
“I might have to return to work early. But I am depending on the Canada Child Benefit to help make ends meet for the next year until I return to work and can again set up an RESP and savings account for our second child,” Bridgestone says.
“With the cost of daycare for both my children in the near future I will not be able to save as much as I have for my first child.”
Forms of Basic Income
Basic income can take different forms, depending on a country’s circumstances. Like all countries, Canada has a mix of interconnected public income supports and public services. Canada already has types of basic income — unconditional cash transfers from government – – but not for everyone. The Canada Child Benefit is one example. The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for seniors is another.
While benefits for the Canada Child Benefit are based on children, they are provided to working age adults regardless of their employment status. Child benefits are a significant source of income stability for families to weather ups and downs in their lives.
Irien Sandoval Bunquin is fairly new to Lindsay. She has one son who received the Canada Child Benefit.
“I can say it was a very big help for me to secure his future.”
Bunquin decided to get an RESP for him set up right away, as well as life insurance and critical illness insurance.
“Though it’s not enough, it’s still a big help for me,” she adds.
Lindsay’s Ashley Muller is the mother of five small children ages 8, 7, 6, 5 and 2.
Her second oldest child has severe non-verbal autism.
“We pay 99 per cent of all our bills, children’s school supplies, hot lunches, field trips, and more with our Canada Child Benefit,” says Muller, who was on the Ontario Basic Income Pilot before it was cancelled.
Muller’s husband just recently started up his own painting business and has 10 years experience in the industry. The flexibility makes it “easier for us to be able to attend our son’s therapy appointments.”
The Province’s cuts to autism programming have exacerbated their financial circumstances.
Muller says it was basic income that “made it so that we were able to start our own business and get safer more reliable vehicles for our family.”
“Now we are struggling financially to pay all of our bills,” even though the Canada Child Benefit covers the basics.
Muller says they had a plan to save up and purchase a home for their family, “but that went out the window once we lost basic income.”
For Brianna Shepherd, also of Lindsay, the Canada Child Benefit has helped her pay her rent and other bills “in financially rough times due to a family separation.”
“It helps me take my kids to do fun things and we can eat healthy meals, too,” says Shepherd.
Basic income is being mentioned more frequently in this federal election. Both the Green Party and NDP support some form of basic income policy.
As well, The Lindsay Advocate will be hosting a free event with former Senator Art Eggleton on Oct. 5 at the Pie Eyed Monk in Lindsay. Eggleton has long argued for the creation of a national basic income policy. To attend this event, go here. Seating is limited.
*This article was originally published in The Lindsay Advocate.