Canada’s new emergency benefit programs to help people during the COVID-19 pandemic are good for many but also leave too many falling through the cracks. If we are leaving people behind in an emergency, we cannot expect them to follow the rules for preventing further outbreaks. This puts us all at risk.
As a community and especially during this global crisis, we are only as strong as our weakest link. If we want all non-essential workers to stay home and self-isolate we must ensure that all individuals have the financial safety net that is needed to do so: a Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI). *Aka: Basic Income, Univeral Basic Income (UBI), Livable Income
We don't have time for the long process of targeting who should get this benefit.
We need this now. We need this for everyone.
GUARANTEED LIVABLE INCOME: WHAT WE ARE ASKING FOR
The details below are based on the amount offered to those who currently qualify for Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), as well as the basic income plan recently brought forward by the Federal NDP: Eight Things the Government Must Do to Help Canadians Through The COVID-19 Pandemic. In addition, we think the amount below is a good start to alleviating much of the financial burden faced by Canadians and would allow a livable level of security and dignity.
Amount: $2000/month per adult (in addition to any other benefits that individual is already receiving, such as Canada Child Benefit). A GLI should not leave anyone in any worse situation. This means that other necessary public programs must be maintained. It also means that no income program should be cut until this condition can be met and the older income program becomes obsolete.
Who Receives the Benefit: Every individual. The purpose of the GLI is that no one gets left behind. Everyone entitled to work in Canada, whether they are permanent residents, citizens, on a working visa, or undergoing a refugee claim, should receive the GLI. For those entitled to work because of the visa they hold, its important to recognize that we invited them to this country and benefited from their labour and contributions. The whole world will benefit if people are not forced to travel back to home countries and can instead maintain social distancing and a decent quality of life while staying in Canada.
A GLI should be available to every person eligible to work and their dependents, regardless of their citizenship status, relationship status, or working status. We want to make sure the income goes to individuals in order to protect women's access to it. Many programs target households or families which can leave women with no income of their own and thus more vulnerable to abuse.
Yes, higher-income people will get the benefit too. We don't have time to debate a complicated, bureaucratic targeting process about who should or shouldn't receive the money. This just punishes the people who really need it the most because it causes delays. Any delay of benefits can have a severe impact on people's mental health.
Giving the benefit to everyone also prevents tension, shame, and resentment between people who would qualify and those who wouldn't. This is an unnecessary factor that could stop people from coming together as a community in crisis. We do not need more reasons for feeling separated during this time. Instead, when everyone receives the GLI it would give a sense of connection, knowing we are all in this together. We believe this is a key psychological building block for us to make it safely through the pandemic.
Duration: Now and until further adjustments are needed.
WE DON'T HAVE TIME FOR FORMS & BUREAUCRACY
In order for this to be an effective measure against the spread COVID-19, people need money in their hands NOW and there's no time to waste. This is because delays due to applications, barriers to applying, barriers to qualifying, and extra bureaucracy will cause a catastrophic loss of social cohesion and safety for all of society.
GLI TO HELP FLATTEN THE CURVE
If we exclude certain individuals from financial support it will come at a much higher cost due to crime, trying to make money in other ways and breaking the rules of social distancing. This will directly cause more deaths due to spreading the virus. Politicians need to feel the social pressure from the people to enact a guaranteed livable income. This is why we all need to use our voice right now for this issue in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Let's make it easier to flatten the curve by putting money directly into the hands of the people so that they can stay home and worry less.
4 WAYS TO HELP MAKE IT HAPPEN IN CANADA
1. Call your local MP and/or members of the media and share why you think an emergency GLI is needed right now. Demand that the Federal government implements it immediately. The more diverse voices asking for this the better. The government needs to hear from all types of people in different circumstances so that they know it's for our collective wellbeing. Find your Local MP: https://www.ourcommons.ca/Members/en/search
2. Write a letter to your local MP and/or members of the media. *Below is an example template you can use. This is sourced by UBI Works with some updated edits made. Find your Local MP: https://www.ourcommons.ca/Members/en/search
3. Post to social media and encourage your audience to take the same actions. Share our blog post and any other helpful posts related to the topic.
4. Reach out to friends and family to help educate them on the importance of a GLI right now. Share resources and encourage them to take the same actions listed above.
*Example Email Template
Dear MP (name)
I am a concerned citizen, residing at: (postal code) . I am contacting you today to tell you that our community urgently needs a guaranteed livable income to be implemented immediately.
Canadians across the nation are in dire need. Many of us cannot afford basic needs while following the best available medical advice and following the rules of self-isolation. We are worried for our families, neighbours, and friends as government supports will be unable to cover everyone's unique circumstances. To ensure that we can all confidently follow the public health measures that this pandemic demands—look after ill family members, purchase vital healthcare supplies, and provide childcare—we call on the federal government to institute an emergency basic income.
48% of Canadians don't have $200 in case of an emergency, while 1 in 5 Canadians work in precarious and gig jobs and do not have access to Employment Insurance or paid sick leave. As businesses close, workers are laid off, and the worldwide economy slows, Canadians need the security of a basic income to ensure they can stay home and slow the spread while still being able to pay the bills. That is why hard hit communities around the world like Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, and the United States are proposing cash payments as direct economic relief for their citizens.
An emergency unconditional basic income for all Canadian residents would ensure that we can confidently face this crisis together.
An emergency basic income will help Canadians protect themselves during this crisis & reduce the burden on our healthcare system.
-An estimated 30-70% of Canadians will be infected with COVID-19. We know that basic income improves health outcomes, resulting in fewer hospitalizations, fewer visits to health practitioners, and reduced food insecurity. We need to free up our resources to maximize our ability to respond to this pandemic.
A basic income will protect families and the economy.
A basic income will protect our communities' businesses.
-Large businesses can lean on loans and savings, but small and medium businesses, the backbone of the economy, have little to no backdrop. Universal basic income puts cash directly into the hands of customers, preserving the longevity of businesses and their ability to pay workers while ensuring the health of our economy.
We ask the Canadian Government to immediately fund an emergency Basic Income for every adult in Canada of $2,000 per month until the crisis has passed and we have all financially recovered.
(name) , (postal code)
Learn more about our Principles of a GLI:
Andrew Yang's Presidential Platform - The Freedom Dividend:
https://www.yang2020.com/what-is-freedom-dividend-faq/ Scott Santens - Advocate for UBI: