The Time is Now – How to Support a Guaranteed Basic Income

At the root of food insecurity is inadequate incomes. Research suggests that income solutions (such as basic income) are needed to address food insecurity. If you happen to believe in a Basic Income Guarantee, please write your local MP or any Politician with whom you are connected or you want to influence, before the speech from the throne announcing government priorities, September 23, 2020.

When writing to your MP, feel free to copy a template letter into an email (See below). Personalize your message by adding that you live in your MP’s riding and add any other information or personal experience you’ve had that show why basic income is needed in Canada. Please copy Prime Minister Trudeau, Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Freeland, and President of the Treasury Board, Minister Duclos. You can also send letters to Cabinet Ministers and the Parliamentary Secretaries, and any other leaders (Some are suggested below). Email addresses for all MPs, including Ministers are here.

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Subject: Please Include Basic Income as a Priority on September 23rd, to address Food Insecurity in Canada

To: Your MP  e.g., Maryam.Monsef@parl.gc.ca (Peterborough-Kawartha); Jamie.Schmale@parl.gc.ca (Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock); Philip.Lawrence@parl.gc.ca (Northumberland – Peterborough South)

cc: Justin.Trudeau@parl.gc.ca; Chrystia.Freeland@parl.gc.ca; Jean-Yves.Duclos@parl.gc.ca; Carla.Qualtrough@parl.gc.ca;
Patty.Hajdu@parl.gc.ca; Marc.Miller@parl.gc.ca; Ahmed.Hussen@parl.gc.ca; Dominic.Leblanc@parl.gc.ca; Erin.OToole@parl.gc.ca; Yves-Francois.Blanchet@parl.gc.caJagmeet.Singh@parl.gc.ca; Elizabeth.May@parl.gc.ca

Dear _____________,

Now is the time for designing and implementing a permanent Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI). The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) has helped many pay for food, shelter, childcare, and any outstanding debt. CERB has been an effective short-term solution to some very real problems, for which we thank you, as we do for the newly announced CRB.

However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada has seen increased rates of food insecurity, a compromise in the quality or quantity of food consumed.[i] Food insecurity is also defined as the inadequate or insecure access to food due to financial constraints, and is a serious problem linked to poor physical and mental health, premature death, and general material deprivation.[ii] Food insecurity affects Canadians unequally, with a higher prevalence of food insecurity in households with children, low income households, lone-parent led families, those who rent rather than own their housing, and those who identify as Indigenous or Black.2 Food insecurity research supports that income a guaranteed basic income is needed to address this problem.[iii] Establishing a Guaranteed Basic Income as an income floor is a bold solution to help all Canadians meet their basic needs and put food on the table in ways that allow for cultural expression, nutritional adequacy, and human dignity during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. No one should be left behind.

As someone who cares about healthy, sustainable food systems, I support a GBI as a policy to support those who work across all areas of the food system including farmers, farm workers, food processors, food distributors, food artisans, food service workers, restaurant operators, and eaters, many of whom have faced even more challenges and precarious circumstances as a result of the pandemic. Income supports are also needed at this time to stimulate the Canadian Economy and the local food industry as they allow funds to be invested back into the economy. For example, through income supports provided through the Canada Child Benefit every $1 disbursed to Canadian families corresponded with a $1.97 contribution to national GDP through direct, indirect and induced effects.[iv]

To be effective, a Guaranteed Basic Income needs to be available to everyone when needed; subject only to residency and income; sufficient to live in dignity and security; respectful of autonomy; complementary to social services; and reliable.[v] A Guaranteed Basic Income can build on successes of CERB, to effectively support Canadians moving forward during the pandemic, and in resilience during future crises.

As you lead our Nation through this crisis, I am asking you, with the support of your colleagues, to ensure that Canadians can benefit from a Guaranteed Basic Income immediately, and that this be included in the September 23rd Speech from the Throne, announcing government priorities.

Another way to support this, is through support of the Motion 46 Guaranteed Livable Basic Income (submitted by Winnipeg Centre MP Leah Gazan, and seconded by Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly).

Thank you for your dedication to well-being of all Canadians. A guaranteed basic income is an important step forward, as we walk through and beyond the pandemic, together.

Sincerely,

____________

Copies to:

Prime Minister. Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Hon. Chrystia Freeland
President of the Treasury Board,  Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Hon. Carla Qualtrough
Minister of Health, Hon. Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services, Hon. Marc Miller
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Hon. Ahmed Hussen
Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Hon. Dominc LeBlanc
Hon. Erin O’Toole, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Leader of the Opposition
Yves-Francois Blanchet, Leader of the Bloc Québécois
Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the New Democratic Party
Elizabeth May, Green Party

References:

[i] Statistics Canada (2020). Canadians experiencing food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, May 2020. Retrieved from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11-627-m/11-627-m2020042-eng.htm

[ii] Tarasuk V, Mitchell A. (2020). Household food insecurity in Canada, 2017-18. Toronto: Research to identify policy options to reduce food insecurity (PROOF). Retrieved from https://proof.utoronto.ca/

[iii] Tarasuk, Valerie (2017). Implications of a Basic Income Guarantee for Household Food Insecurity. Research Paper 24. Thunder Bay: Northern Policy Institute. Retrieved from https://proof.utoronto.ca/

[iv] Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (2019). Economic Contribution of the Canada Child Benefit: A Basic Income Guarantee for Canadian Families with Children. Retrieved from https://www.ubiworks.ca/ccb

[v] Coalition Canada (2020). The Basic Income we Want. Retrieved from https://basicincomecoalition.ca/basic-income/basic-income-we-want-for-canada/