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
Canada’s Labour Minister Filomena Tassi says the federal government is considering establishing a universal basic income as a way to help people impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
As the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) ends in September and merges with a revamped employment insurance benefit program, anti-poverty activists have called on the Liberals to establish a basic income program after seeing how effective it can be for citizens who have lost their jobs.
“This is a progressive policy,” said Tassi, Liberal MP for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas. “Everything is on the table for us as we move forward. We are taking a look at the impact COVID has had on Canadians and really working on how to come up with solutions to getting Canadians working and providing them with the supports they need during this very challenging time.”Read more
In February 2018, Jessie Golem, a freelance photographer in Hamilton, found out she’d been selected to participate in Ontario’s basic income pilot project. She felt like she won the lottery. The three-year pilot, launched by the Wynne government, was meant to provide 4,000 low-income individuals in Hamilton, Lindsay and Thunder Bay with a maximum of $16,989 per year per person (or $24,027 per couple).Read more
Raise the Hammer
I was one of the 4500 citizens in Canada to be given a basic income (BI). I applied for BI while working at a bank in downtown Hamilton. Part-time employment is all that is available as a modern bank teller.
The top priority given to us by our managers was to teach customers how to use our online banking platform and cell-phone application. The better I did my job, the fewer faces I saw coming into the branch. I was in the midst of a job-performance paradox, witnessing and facilitating the replacement of my job by technology. And moving up the ladder didn't make much long-term sense either, seeing as financial planners are now being publicly shafted in Super Bowl advertisements by automated robo-banking platforms like Questrade.Read more
Deidre Pike - Hamilton Spectator
I shared a sacred moment with a stranger this week. We stood together as the Earth rolled toward the Sun, allowing for rays of light to beckon pink and blue hues across the sky and become the new day. We witnessed this spectacle together in Lindsay, where we met behind the Days Inn and Suites.
While it was still dark we sipped our beverages and talked about our lives and the paths that brought us to this place. Corey lives in Mitchell and usually does his barn building work — installing trough, feed, and ventilation systems — closer to home. He lives with his partner who is pregnant with the first child they're bringing into the world together, and three other children he is proud to co-parent.Read more
On the May day they learned they had been accepted into the province’s basic income pilot project, the Hamilton couple cried.
“I just felt like after so long of everything just constantly going wrong and having the worst kind of luck that we finally had something go right,” said Dan Weiss.
He and partner Justine Taylor were “desperate” after both lost “what little work” they had, getting behind on bills and rent and, to top it all off, finding out they were expecting a baby — a little brother for nine-year-old Julia.Read more
Hamilton City Council has voted in favour of officially denouncing the provincial government's decision to cancel Ontario's basic income pilot project.
Ward 12 Councillor Lloyd Ferguson said what worries him is that council's move "won't change the province's mind."
"It's politically right, but is it right for our relationship with the province?" he asked, adding that criticizing a decision the government made over something that's clearly their jurisdiction could "annoy them."
But Ward 4 Councillor, Sam Merulla, who brought the motion, said the denunciation isn't about bothering the government, it's about sending a signal that Hamilton won't condone any attacks on the city's most vulnerable.Read more
One by one, participants in the province's basic income pilot project came to the microphone at Hamilton City Hall Wednesday to mourn the dignity they felt was robbed from them after the program was unceremoniously scrapped.
Some spoke about how their mental health had vastly improved while the program was running. Others talked about how it helped them focus on work, and growing a small business. Still others celebrated the small victories of being able to buy fresh food, or just see a movie.
For Michael Hampson, the program afforded him something as simple as being able to buy new clothes.Read more
A busload of Hamilton basic income program participants and community advocates travelled to Queen's Park Wednesday in search of answers after the PC government announced last week the pilot project would be scrapped.
While the group did not learn what's next for the close to 1,000 Hamilton residents affected by the cancellation, Tom Cooper of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction said the visit was productive because it offered a chance for people to meet with MPPs, share their stories and have their voices heard.
"People are unsure about the future," he said.Read more
The following is the text of a speech given at the recent North American basic income congress, held in Hamilton. The author's first name is Jodi, and we are withholding her last name at her request.
You don't understand the feeling of shame until you have to call a family member to help you get to the hospital with your child because you don't have the money to park, cab or the ability to take a bus with a broken child.
I was a single mom to three amazing kids for many years: Two of them with special needs.
I was married and lived a comfortable middle-class life. We chose for me to stay home and be a full-time mom.Read more