By Sheila Regehr
The Speech from the Throne began with the message that ‘this is not the time for austerity’ and talked about ‘fighting for every Canadian’. The content is far more status quo than bold or transformative, however, and doesn’t match the rhetoric. Canadians from all sectors and walks of life are calling for a basic income to give everyone a fighting chance but it was glaringly absent.
People who have already been living austerely, those who were most vulnerable in the first wave of the pandemic are even more anxious now. Our leaders seem out of touch with this ‘unprecedented’ reality and out of time with a resurgent deadly virus hitting us as Canadian winter is approaching.
Austerity is the fate of people who may lose CERB and other benefits, or didn’t qualify in the first place. They are losing housing, health, the ability to buy food, and hope. These people, as always, are predominantly female, Black, Indigenous and other people of colour, people with disabilities and single people with no one to fall back on. Some of them used to be middle-class and our income security systems failed them. Others have known disadvantage throughout their lives. These are people who can’t protect themselves from COVID-19’s impact the way others can. That is a public health, human rights and economic disaster.Read more
The Energy Mix
Sheila Regehr has been chair of the Basic Income Canada Network since 2014. She’s a retired federal public servant with years of experience working on income security, and past executive director of the National Council of Welfare. With the federal Speech from the Throne coming up today, she explains how a basic income builds up communities, reduces anxiety, and makes a whole host of problems easier to solve—including the climate crisis.
The Energy Mix: What’s the basic argument for a basic income?
Regehr: That’s the most difficult question to start with because it’s so all-encompassing. The very basic idea is that everyone is part of society and the economy. Everyone should be able to participate and benefit from it. In our modern world that takes money. It’s a matter of human rights and dignity, and it’s a common good, the idea of sharing resources.Read more
Read morePress ReleaseSenators Lankin, McCallum and Pate hosted a meeting with Indigenous women leaders and MP Leah Gazan to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous women in Manitoba and the place of guaranteed livable basic income in redressing systemic racism and inequality.“We heard so many examples of the ways in which the pandemic has amplified food and income insecurity, the tragedy of horrendous mortality rates, child removal, homelessness and massive incarceration in Winnipeg that are so clearly tied to income level.We also heard the hopefulness of Indigenous women who foresee the links between the development and co-management of social services and guaranteed livable income so that they can afford food, clothing, housing, sending children to recreation programs or on field trips.The women were very clear,” identified Senator Frances Lankin. “For healthy communities, we need healthy families, including sufficient resources, especially money and time, to spend time with children, volunteer in their classes and the community.”
In the Hammer
With holes in Canada’s social safety net being exposed as businesses closed in March to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the appetite for a system overhaul has intensified.
Now, what was once considered a radical solution to growing financial disparities, has taken centre stage—receiving support from not only social service organizations but business leaders, as well.Read more
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit has been a lifeline for many Canadians.
“I don’t know what I would have done if they hadn’t introduced it. Not only am I a full-time self-employed artist and musician and music teacher but I have two small kids,” said Dana Wylie, who organized a basic income rally in Edmonton on Saturday.
Wylie says since the coronavirus pandemic started, her work opportunities immediately dropped. Like many in Edmonton, she applied for CERB.
“For me, it’s made all the difference and quite frankly provided me with more financial stability than I’ve ever had in my life,” Wylie said.Read more
- a Zoom based (due pandemic) Basic Income March,
- facilitated by 'Worldwide Meetings of UBI Advocates and UBI Networks',
- organized by UBI Networks,
- on 19th of September 2020, Saturday,
- at GMT 12:00, or at GMT 14:30, or at GMT 19:00,
- as a participation in the 2nd Basic Income March (an initiative by; Income Movement),
- during the 13th International Basic Income Week.
3,600+ Individuals and Organizations Call for Basic Income Now
At the launch of International Basic Income Week, over 3,600 organizations and individuals from across the country – including the Canadian Women’s Foundation, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), and Women’s College Hospital, have signed on to a national Statement on Basic Income: A Case for Women.
Quoting Senator Kim Pate, one of four sitting Senators who endorsed the statement, “For women in Canada, a guaranteed livable income would mean choice: being able to leave a situation of abuse without becoming homeless; being able to take time to search for suitable work or further education or pursue a new business or care for loved ones or contribute to the community, in ways that enrich all of us.”
Developed by a steering group of leaders from women’s and feminist organizations across the country, the statement is directed to the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, and Ministers Monsef, Qualtrough, Duclos, and Tassi, and calls for the implementation of a national basic income. The pandemic has clearly exposed women’s vulnerability in times of health and economic crisis, particularly those whose experiences of inequality are also shaped by other systems of oppression.