This is an important time to advocate for a basic income, as the Ontario provincial election is fast approaching and at the federal level the Liberal and NDP parties have joined forces. After the last provincial election in 2018, the newly elected Progressive Conservative government cancelled the Basic Income Pilot in Hamilton, Brantford, Lyndsay, and Thunder Bay. We now have the opportunity to raise the issue of a basic income again as each of us has a democratic right to vote in the Ontario election. We collectively have a voice and the ability to identify a basic income as the foundation of a sustainable economy, and a just and healthier society for everyone.
Why should you advocate for a basic income?
In May 2020, the bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada wrote a letter to the prime minister in support of a Guaranteed Basic Income. They wrote: “Canada needs guaranteed basic income for all. We need it today.”
In a recent article written by The Reverend Deacon Rod McDowell for the Niagara Anglican, he drew attention to an important quote from Bishop Bell’s reading of Archbishop Rowan Williams: “To be a Christian is to be in politics—which is the art of humans living together—and people of faith have perspective on how we ought to be living and working together. We have an interest in seeping deep and authentic humanity being nourished. And we have a duty to challenge whenever that deep and authentic way of living is sidelined or diminished whether it’s by inhumane policies or inadequate educational provision or whatever. The political is inevitable.”
As we are reminded additionally by the work of the Diocese of Niagara’s Anti-Racism Working Group, and especially at this Easter season, our baptismal vows commit us to:
- Seeking and serving Christ in all persons, loving your neighbour as yourself, with God’s help;
- Striving for justice and peace among all people, and respecting the dignity of every human being, with God’s help; and
- Striving to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation and respecting, sustaining, and renewing the life of the earth, with God’s help.
Our political response to this call
In response to this call, the Basic Income Now campaign is a collaboration between Ontario’s and Canada’s leading basic income organizations: Ontario Basic Income Network, Basic Income Canada Network, Basic Income Canada Youth Network, Coalition Canada, and UBI Works. Together with grassroots organizations like Basic Income Hamilton, we are mobilizing individuals to raise the awareness of the need for a basic income. We understand that a basic income would be best created and implemented at a national level; however, the provincial government/candidates for the provincial parliament can make a commitment to work towards a Federal Basic Income Guarantee. This would include:
Advocating and working with the federal government on the development and implementation of a Basic Income Guarantee; and
Shifting existing provincial income support system toward basic income principles that require less conditionality while providing recipients a livable income with more autonomy.
As an advocate with the basic income movement, I am currently the facilitator of the Ontario Basic Income Network Coordinating Team and chair of the basic income election campaign. I am also a member of Coalition Canada and Basic Income Hamilton. In all of these volunteer roles, we are working together to mobilize people to use their voice in support of a basic income.
What can you do?
- Join the Basic Income Hamilton mailing list
- Subscribe to the Ontario Basic Income Network newsletters
- Monitor the Basic Income Now website
- Connect with candidates and ask them to take a pledge to support a basic income
- Attend local candidates debatesAttend the Ontario Day of Action in Toronto on Saturday, May 14
- Obtain a lawn sign and/or merchandise (T-shirts, hoodies, stickers, etc.; you can email me to obtain a sign)
- Vote on June 2 for candidate champions of a basic income