Groceries, a winter coat, a truck for the family business. These might not seem like luxuries to those of us who can afford them, but they are for the people who live on a low income in our communities.
What would otherwise be a necessity becomes a luxury when you have a hard time making ends meet every month. And the difference between a luxury and a necessity for people living on low income is as simple as having a little extra cushion each month – the kind that a basic income can provide.
I know because I’ve seen it firsthand from my time as the Executive Director of the Mincome Project in Manitoba in the 1970s. I remember a Dutch film crew going out to a family farm in Dauphin and finding the most tangible example of how a basic income could help a family: a 20-year-old truck.
A truck that the family was able to buy because the mother could save some of the basic income her family received through the Mincome project each month for the down payment. A truck that helped that family sustain its livelihood and independence for two decades.
I saw in Manitoba how a basic income can change people’s lives for the better and now I’m seeing it here in Ontario.
I see the same examples coming out of the communities participating in the Ontario Basic Income Pilot. Stories about people like Alana Baltzer in Hamilton, who was able to buy her first new winter coat in years or Barb Munro here in Lindsay who can now afford to buy good, healthy food for her family at the grocery store. But more important than these material things is the peace of mind they have knowing there will be money in the bank at the end of the month.
That’s why I would encourage anyone between the ages of 18 to 64 for the duration of the pilot, who earns less than $34,000 as a single person or $48,000 as a couple to apply to be part of the Ontario Basic Income Pilot. The Pilot team will continue to hold in-person enrollment sessions and accept applications for another week until April 16th, 2018, so get your application in soon.
You can find a full list of sessions on their website here. Walk into a session and a helpful member of their staff will walk you through an application step-by-step.