Maybe now we can finally say it out loud — poverty is in decline

National Post - Andrew Coyne

Opinion

Pssst. Can I let you in on a little secret? Keep it under your hat, but — the poverty rate has fallen again. In fact, it’s at a new all-time low. Statistics Canada reports that the percentage of Canadians falling below the official poverty line in 2017 fell to 9.5 per cent, down from 15.6 per cent in 2006. That still leaves much room for improvement. But this is remarkable progress.

Of course, the official measure of poverty, known as the Market Basket Measure, has only been around for a few years. But an earlier, unofficial measure, known as the Low Income Cut Off, goes back much further. It, too, is at an all-time low, after a steady, two decades-long decline. Indeed, at 7.8 per cent, it’s barely half what it was in 1996.

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More than half of people on basic income behind on bills for two or more months

Roderick Benns

It’s perhaps no surprise that the men and women who were collecting basic income across Lindsay, Thunder Bay, and Hamilton area were in financially challenging circumstances.

Data from the baseline survey shows how difficult their situation actually was. The average share of income spent on shelter was more than 55 per cent, while more than 43 per cent of participants reported they were falling behind in meeting their basic financial obligations.

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The limits of church, the duty of state

Roderick Benns

Opinion

When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” 

 Dom Helder Camara

When we broke the story in Lindsay, Ontario about many seniors with dementia symptoms who are falling through the cracks, some spoke up to say this would be a great project for churches to take on. We disagree entirely.

First, let me say that our churches, charities, and non-profits are run by some of the finest people one could ever meet. But it is part of the neoliberal, corporate-first mindset that has normalized the idea of charity to this degree.

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Innovation Nation: Why CEOs support basic income

Financial Post

When I was in my mid-20s, I was fortunate enough to be able to invest my life savings in an income property. The rental income provided a sense of economic security that later enabled me to quit my job and start my own business. I now run an eight-figure global company.

Several other successful entrepreneurs I know were also able to take risks on their business because of the financial and emotional security provided by a guaranteed passive income stream — whether social assistance payments or spousal support.

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Nearly half of basic income recipients were food insecure: Survey

Roderick Benns

Nearly half of the thousands of Ontarians collecting basic income reported severe food insecurity.

In the baseline survey, 48.4 per cent reported experiencing severe food insecurity. Survey comments made to the Basic Income Canada Network indicated that the higher quality food recipients were able to purchase while on the pilot improved their lives — sometimes dramatically.

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Court has ‘no authority’ to quash PC decision to cancel basic income; ruling has ‘no effect’ on possible class action lawsuit

Roderick Benns

It was not the kind of Valentine’s Day gift supporters of basic income were looking for.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice Divisional Court says the court has no authority to force the PC government to continue funding the Ontario Basic Income Pilot program.

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Free money wouldn’t make people lazy – but it could revolutionise work

The Guardian

The danger of so-called “free money” not only underpins critiques of universal basic income (UBI), but also the incredibly strong narratives that underlie the attitudes to work in the UK (and elsewhere) – and our unemployment benefit system. Paid employment is held up as one of the ultimate markers of being a valuable member of society, with those not in paid work (always described in these narratives as a voluntary position, rather than as the result of issues outside their control) seen as a drain on society. Those out of work are positioned in direct contrast to those in paid employment: the shirkers versus the strivers, the “welfare dependent” versus the hardworking families.

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