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To The Government of Canada:
Re: Basic Income - A Covid-19 legacy?
I am a Canadian citizen and a member of the Calgary Alliance for the Common Good, a growing organization currently comprised of 30 community, ethno-cultural, non-profit, education, labour and faith groups. These organizations represent approximately 35,000 Calgary citizens.
I am writing to ask that you support the implementation of a guaranteed Basic Income by our Federal Government.
The Covid19 pandemic has revealed that existing federal programs such as Employment Insurance, the Canada Child Benefit, and the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors have their limitations. Provincially, it has shown that welfare and disability supports are insufficient, do not keep Canadians out of poverty and tend to stigmatize the recipient.
It has also shown us who the truly essential workers are. Many of them are part-time, poorly-paid workers struggling to support their families. Many of these frontline workers are making less than the CERB would pay them but they are risking their health and the lives of their families to ensure we have the necessities to enable us to physically isolate ourselves at this time. The collective sacrifice demanded by Covid-19 emphasizes the need for a social contract that benefits everyone: a guaranteed Basic Income
A guaranteed Basic Income would cost our Federal Government about $23 billion a year or approximately 6% of Canada’s yearly budget of $350 billion. The federal government's projection of how much it will spend on direct support for Canadians during the COVID-19 crisis has risen to more than $152.7 billion as of May 28, 2020. This was before the Federal Government announced it was extending the CERB deadline. Had a guaranteed Basic Income already been established, Canada would have realized significant savings.
Basic Income would allow families to buy healthier food which would reduce our health care costs. It would allow families to flourish without the stress caused by poverty and improve mental health. Having a Basic Income would allow people to take the time off work to care for sick family members, saving tax payers money for care in hospital and nursing homes. It would mean that poor health or an accident would not financially cripple a family. Basic Income would be a transformational response to homelessness in Canada. It would allow all of the financially challenged in Canada to improve their outlook on life while saving tax payer money.
The Basic Income pilot projects, already run in Canada, have shown that the financial security of Basic Income reduces alcohol, drug abuse and lowers crime, creating happier families. It also creates job security by allowing people more time to search for a better, more suitable job. It showed that people needed to have financial stability in order to plan for their future.
Basic Income allows people time to create entrepreneurial businesses that can change our economy and are critically needed in this time of a changing job market. It allows people with poor job prospects the time to re-educate and qualify for better paying jobs. Basic Income alleviates poverty and reduces income inequality. It addresses the precariousness workers face as the gig economy and technology change our labour market.
In order to have a vibrant economy post-Covid-19, Canadians need to have money in their pockets to stimulate the economy. A guaranteed Basic Income is a market-based solution.
Implementing Basic Income at this time would create a wonderful solution out of a horrible situation. Basic Income would show that our Federal Government is a powerful force for good, creating a just society in Canada.
Isn’t guaranteed Basic Income a legacy that you want to be remembered for creating as a ‘Silver Lining’ arising from this Pandemic?
Thank you for your work to lead the way to make Canada a socially-just democracy.