Westcott fighting for return of basic income guarantee

Thunder Bay Newswatch

Ruth Westcott says Ontario’s now-cancelled basic income pilot project changed her life.

It’s why she’s helping to lead a grassroots effort to ensure the program is available not only in Ontario again, but across the country.

Lifting people out of poverty must become a national priority, she said, speaking at city hall on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

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Time for a National Basic Income

Raise the Hammer

Brian Russell had $40 left in his pocket when he was one of 4,000 people selected for Ontario's basic income pilot project. "Your life is better," he says. "I had better food and money to travel around the city. My life was more stable and secure."

For Joan Frame, basic income payments from the province meant she no longer had to borrow from friends to make it through the last few days of the month. Frame says she was always juggling bills and that basic income gave her back power over her life.

"I don't know if you've ever been in a situation where you need to ask for money, but it is impossibly difficult," she says. "It was the worst part about being on any kind of assistance for me."

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Basic income project benefitted thousands


Everything in Ruth Westcott’s life changed for the better when she became part of Ontario’s basic income pilot project.

The Thunder Bay woman had been on social assistance for nearly 30 years, but once she came out of the now-cancelled pilot project, her health improved dramatically and she became well enough to work.

“Just like everyone else I know on social assistance, I was getting sicker and sicker and more and more disabled the deeper and deeper my poverty was getting,” she said.

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Basic income denied in Ontario: Interview with Jessie Golem

Open Democracy

Jessie Golem is a photographer and was, for a short time, a basic income recipient in Ontario. Beyond Trafficking and Slavery caught up with her at the 19th Global Basic Income Congress in Hyderabad, India, to chat about what the programme did for her, and what it meant to have it cut short.

Beyond Trafficking and Slavery: You were, for a short time, a recipient of a basic income in Canada. What was the program you were part of?

Jessie Golem: In 2017, the Ontario provincial government under the Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne introduced a three-year basic income pilot. They chose 4,500 people in four cities in Ontario, all of whom were making under C$30,000 a year, to receive an unconditional guaranteed basic income. The size of the income was put on a sliding scale. You could receive up to C$1,400 a month, but if you were working then it was reduced by 50 cents to the dollar. Because I was working, I received about C$700 a month.

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Where's the talk about a guaranteed livable income?

When Canadians head to the polls on October 21, they should ask themselves how Canada’s political parties will tackle inequality.

Over the past two decades, the richest Canadians have seen their share of income go up and up. The top one per cent absorbed almost a third of all income growth between 1997 and 2007, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Meanwhile, one in seven people in Canada lives in poverty — which hurts everyone, because poverty is expensive. In 2008, for instance, the cost of failing to address poverty in Ontario – including everything from health care and criminal justice system costs to lost tax revenue – was estimated to be 10 to 16 per cent of the province’s budget. That’s around $2,000 to $3,000 per household per year.

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Candidates argue merits of basic-income guarantee

Thunder Bay Newswatch

Thunder Bay-Superior North candidates tackled a number of hot-button issues on Wednesday night as they met the electorate at a debate hosted by the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce.

Topics ranged from climate change to homelessness to Indigenous issues in the lone local forum to date to include all six candidates in the race.

The election hopefuls,  Liberal incumbent Patty Hajdu, Conservative Frank Pullia, the NDP’s Anna Betty Achneepineskum, Bruce Hyer of the Green Party, Youssef Khanjari of the People’s Party of Canada and Liberatarian Alex Vodden, didn’t agree on much, but they did all agree that a basic income guarantee of some sort was something to work toward.

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Universal Basic Income Favored in Canada, U.K. but Not in U.S.

Gallup News

A recent survey by Gallup and Northeastern University finds a slight majority of Americans opposed to a universal basic income (UBI) program as a way to support workers displaced by AI adoption. Conversely, about three-fourths of residents in the U.K. and Canada favor the idea.

These findings come from a Gallup/Northeastern survey of over 10,000 adults in Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. conducted from April to June 2019. By some estimates, up to 50% of jobs are expected to be automated within the next decade. An OECD study across 21 countries suggests that while only 9% of jobs are currently at high risk of automation, low-skilled workers are most vulnerable to job displacement.

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