National letter writing campaign on Basic Income started by Kingston group

By Roderick Benns

The Kingston Action Group for a Basic Income Guarantee is living up to its name — taking action in the form of a national letter writing campaign directed at the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Jean-Yves Duclos.

The hope is that a large number of people will simply copy and paste this letter, adding their own name, address, and signature, and send it off to the Minister. (No stamp is necessary when snail-mailing a letter to a member of parliament.) The letter should create additional pressure for the federal government to consider the merits of a Basic Income policy.

The letter begins by acknowledging the Ministry’s work so far, and then quickly pivots to calling for support for a Basic Income.

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Petition for Basic Income beats all expectations

By Roderick Benns

In May 2016, Reza Hajivandi and a bunch of others interested in social issues ended up in the same space under the North York Community Housing Leadership and Community Engagement program in Toronto.

Through the course they were taking, they discussed and learned what community leadership and participation meant. As a last step of fulfilling the course’s requirements, they had to apply their skills and then both advocate and engage with the community on one issue. They chose Basic Income as their issue.

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New book on Basic Income by Leaders and Legacies publisher released

Roderick Benns, publisher of Leaders and Legacies, spent nearly two years interviewing prominent leaders and academics across Canada on the merits of a basic income guarantee, hoping to help put the policy on the radar of politicians across the country.

A basic income (also known as a guaranteed annual income) would ensure no one ever drops below the poverty line. It ensures everyone an income sufficient to meet basic needs and live with dignity, regardless of work status.

Articles appeared on Benns’ independent, non-partisan news site, Leaders and Legacies, over a two-year period. After gathering all of the articles and question and answer sessions together, Benns says he realized he had more than 70,000 words and a 290-page book to share – Basic Income: How a Canadian Movement Could Change the World. The book is available exclusively through Amazon.

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Brazil, Canada, and austerity experiences

Last week The Intercept Brasil posted an article questioning the wisdom of the Brazilian government’s current austerity program and its proposal to essentially freeze departmental spending (having already implemented significant spending cuts) for a twenty year period by way of a constitutional amendment. 

The article makes the case that a twenty year freeze is unprecedented in the global experience, and refers (somewhat positively) to the Canadian federal budgets of the 1990s as good practice models of time-limited budget control. 

Basic Income Canada Network’s Alan Gummo has written a response. His edited version is republished here: 

A comment to The Intercept Brasil on the Canadian austerity experience 

This commentary warrants a much broader historical perspective to convey the whole story of the Canadian experience and inform the present situation in Brazil.

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Health transfers made directly to each Canadian

By Joe Foster 

This week, we recognized the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on Oct. 17. Unfortunately, Canadians have come to accept that poverty is inevitable. Is this true? Actually, we can indeed make poverty history. The costs to our economy and well-being are too significant to do otherwise.

Next to the weather, health care and its costs are probably the items most talked about by Canadians. There are two factors that influence our health and therefore our health costs. The first is the up-front cost (preventative health care) and the second is mopping up afterwards (generally referred to as treatment).

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Time to put basic income guarantee to work in Ontario

By Jamie Swift
Hamilton Spectator

Last month an energetic Ontario anti-poverty coalition issued a sharp critique of Ontario's social assistance policy. The Put Food in the Budget coalition condemned government consultations and studies as "diversionary tactics" and "empty promises."

The activists want welfare rates raised. While certainly necessary, tinkering with a wholly dysfunctional system is far from sufficient.

In his new book, Utopia for Realists: The Case for a Universal Basic Income, Open Borders and a 15-hour Workweek, Dutch writer Rutger Bregman argues that social justice advocates need to turn away from gloom-and-doom and what he describes as "underdog" activism. 

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New Dundee meeting on Basic Income will be first rural outreach for Waterloo BI group

By Roderick Benns 

The Basic Income Waterloo Region group in Ontario will be taking their message about basic income to a smaller centre tomorrow night – the village of New Dundee. 

The coordinator of the local network, John Green, says they are “happy to be invited to talk about basic income with a more rural audience.” 

“It will be a first for us. It will be interesting to hear whether they respond differently from urban audiences we have spoken with,” says Green.

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