Basic Income (aka, UBI, Universal Basic Income, Guaranteed Living Basic Income) is the idea that everyone should have enough to survive, enough to cover essentials like food and housing.
This Wednesday, September 23rd the Canadian government will present their plan to fix our social safety net. Now is the time to speak up! Sign a petition, write to your MP, and Justin Trudeau.
Basic Income is key to recovering from the Covid crisis, as the money will support the people who need it the most & it will be directly injected into economy by people spending on rent, food and other essentials. It simplifies support systems & it will help Canada deal with the economic impact from the Covid crisis, the decrease in jobs, and the rise in automation.
Please help Basic Income become a reality in Canada! We need a better support system for Canadians that will actually help everyone & help the economy, now more than ever before.
If you're new to the concept, here's a nice short video explaining "the case for universal basic income in post-pandemic Canada".
Is this a crazy left-wing idea?
No, not at all. Bill Kelly mentioned in his show the other day that "one of the architects of the concept of this was actually long-time conservative strategist and senator Hugh Segal".
Basic Income is a rare policy that people on the left and right side of the political spectrum support. It's easy to see why if you look at it. It's a good solution for poverty, it has an excellent ROI, and it stimulates the economy. Studies have shown that every $1 invested in the CCB drives $2 of economic activity!
It also simplifies and reduce government programs by replacing a number of existing support programs. Did anyone find themselves looking at the list of various Covid support programs when this first started to try to figure out which ones you were eligible for, personally or as a business? Did you see how long the list was? And yet, they still missed millions of people providing no help at all to many people and small businesses. Introducing basic income at the start of the pandemic for everyone would have been far more straight-forward than the patchwork of programs that is literally pages long and still misses millions.
And if you look at an issue like abortion, basic income can help women, regardless of whether you are pro-choice or pro-life.
Pro-choice: 3 out of 4 abortions happen because the woman can't afford having a baby. Basic Income allows women to choose whether to have a child from a place of financial freedom, rather than insecurity.
Pro-life: Basic Income addresses the most common reasons why women seek abortions, giving them financial security to have a child, the freedom to stop working, and increasing family stability.
The two main criticisms of a basic income are:
- Giving people cash will cause them to work less and hurt the economy.
- Providing an income floor at a reasonable level for everyone is unaffordable.
Income and wealth inequality are getting worse
A new PBO report says Canada's wealthiest 1% hold more than 25% of the wealth, about $3 trillion. And giving out millions to companies to help with Covid didn't result in those companies spending the funds as intended in the US or Canada.
I know some people were hoping the Covid crisis would lead to the housing bubble bursting, prices falling back down to reasonable levels, and being able to afford to buy a home someday!
Rents have not gone up in BC yet, but starting this month landlords can evict tenants for not paying rent, and in December rent increases can start happening again. In places like Vancouver, nearly half of renters spend 30% or more of their income on housing which is unaffordable. Nearly a 1/4 spend at least half of their before-tax income on shelter.
I'm sure you've noticed by now that food prices are going up and package sizes are going down. There are lots of articles discussing how the pandemic is causing grocery prices to rise and how "no food category is immune". Food insecurity is “most prevalent among households with low incomes, those who rent … and those who identify as Indigenous and Black” and food insecurity has increased during the pandemic. Food is a basic human need essential for health and life itself. We ALL need food to survive.
Millions of Canadians still don’t have jobs to return to
Many business are struggling. Bars and nightclubs and other businesses have been shutdown indefinitely in many places due to being high-risk environments. Bartenders, DJs, waiters, numerous people have lost their jobs and those jobs aren't coming back anytime soon.
In BC, we have a limit of 50 people for gatherings and ALL of the events where I used to sell my clothing and accessories were gatherings of more than 50 people. Artisan markets, fashion shows, trade shows...large events, indoors with lots of people, which are now banned. This disrupts not just me and the other businesses who attended these events, there's also all the organizers for the events and the workers who setup up the convention halls, food servers, security, etc.
The Covid crisis has "disproportionately impacted our most financially vulnerable: low wage earners, part-time employees, the solo self-employed, youth, and recent immigrants" and estimates suggest that over 1/2 million lay-offs could be permanent.
And automation is coming, very quickly. You may think, oh, that's something far off in the distant future. It's surprisingly close in a lot of fields.
Companies are already testing driverless trucks. "The technology will bring untold profits, but it may cost thousands of truckers their livelihoods."
A number of companies have developed 3D printers for constructing buildings. So far, they can only do as tall as low-rises. They plan to have the machines commercially available later in 2020. The technology looks really cool and sustainable. If so, it could be a great option that could be widely adopted, developed, and expanded quickly.
Even small companies like mine are looking at how to increase automation and involve less people. I'm looking at doing runways shows using virtual 3D models and I'm considering moving my manufacturing to a new computerized on-demand system that would reduce costs and be more sustainable. But these changes would also mean not hiring local people, such as models, pattern-makers, photographers, industrial sewers...
"In contrast with the industrial revolution, the titans of our new economy aren't creating that many new jobs. At its zenith, GM employed hundreds of thousands. Facebook fewer than 10K. The same is true of globalization...it's outsourcing a lot of jobs from the developed western economies. The terrifying reality is that there is no economic rule which automatically translates increased economic growth into widely shared prosperity." This is a quote from Chrystia Freeland's Ted Talk on "The rise of the new global super-rich". It's an interesting talk discussing the radical shift happening in our economy, a shift that is now being accelerated by the pandemic.
Canada has a large number of small businesses & BC's rate of entrepreneurship is even higher than the national average. The businesses hardest hit by the Covid crisis were small businesses and solo self-employed.
Artists For Basic Income
Artists have been particularly hit hard by this crisis. Many theatres are closed or struggling. In BC, dancing is now banned, both indoors and outdoors. Film and TV production was shut down for months. Now it's finally restarting, but there is a reduction in staff and hours. Even scripts are being written to include less characters and eliminate the need for background actors. Click on the link to read more about The Case for Basic Income for The Arts.
Being a female artist and a small business owner and soloprenuer, these points all speak to me. I know I've found the pandemic very challenging and I know I'm not alone. I've heard from other artists, small business owners, and soloprenuers who are having a very difficult time surviving this crisis.
Sign a petition! Write to your MP. Write to Chrystia Freeland and Justin Trudeau.
Here are some links to help you get started:
Ask your MP & Trudeau to support Universal Basic Income
Sign to Support M-46 Guaranteed Livable Basic & tell your MP to support Motion 46!
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