Region to be asked to lobby for basic income guarantee

St. Catharines Standard

Niagara’s public health department is asking regional councillors to lobby upper-tier governments to develop a guaranteed basic income pilot project, in light of the inequitable impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on low income residents.

A motion will be considered at Tuesday’s public health and social services committee meeting, recommends that councillors call on the federal and provincial government to prioritize measures to reduce poverty and income inequality in society, while recommending pilot projects such as basic income guarantee projects.

“We recognize that socio-economic conditions are about 50 per cent of what cause people’s health outcomes,” said Niagara acting medical officer of health Dr. Mustafa Hirji.

“It is that high, 50 per cent. It’s an enormous issue,” Hirji said. “If you make a small improvement in socio-economic conditions, it will have pretty profound impact on health because there’s so much of an impact.”

He said a guaranteed basic income, which everyone is provided with an income sufficient to meet their basic needs regardless of their work status, is an idea that has been around for a few decades now as a way to improve socio-economic conditions.

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