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On Tuesday, September 22, at 12.30 p.m. on the eve of the Throne Speech, The United Church of Canada is asking Canadians across the country to light a candle in support of a guaranteed livable annual income, often referred to as the guaranteed basic income. Building on the positive experience of the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), this is a unique opportunity to make an important policy change to ensure greater income security for all Canadians.
“COVID-19 has revealed for all of us the cracks in our economic situation in Canada. Many people cannot pay their rent and can scarcely afford food. Now is the time to make a systemic change in the system that will remove the stigma of being poor and encourage a more equitable society,” says the Very Rev. Lois Wilson, former Moderator and senator.
Light a candle, take a picture, and post it to social media (#UCCanlivableincome, #guaranteedlivableincome)Send it to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, your local MP, and news outlets.
A guaranteed livable income program would address the inequities that exist within the present wage and social benefit structures in our country. Such a program should be universally accessible, preserve human dignity rather than creating stigma, remove discriminatory barriers, not penalize people for the work they do, be available with a minimum of bureaucracy, and exist alongside other social supports, including health care, pharma care, pension, and education supports. Particular attention should address the barriers experienced by Indigenous peoples in accessing relief programs related to COVID-19, recognizing that these are manifestations of a system that leaves Indigenous people out of decision-making and denies their rightful place in Canada’s economy.
We also know that low-income racialized communities have been hit hardest by COVID-19 and its economic impact. A livable guaranteed income would assist all, but especially those in our society who are economically disadvantaged by manifestations of systemic racism.
Support is growing for this fundamental social policy. In addition to the United Church Moderator the Right Rev. Richard Bott’s public statement, leaders of The Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada as well as 50 senators have written letters to the federal government to support implementing such a program. Many local, regional, and national organizations and networks are also expressing firm support for this fundamental social policy. An Angus-Reid poll in June 2020 showed that 59 percent of Canadians support the idea, a significant change from a similar poll four years ago, due to the impact of the pandemic.
To bring visibility to this event, the church is holding three small public vigils on September 22 at 12:30 p.m. local time: in Ottawa at the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill, in front of Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland’s constituency office in Toronto (344 Bloor Street West), and at Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson’s constituency office in North Vancouver (301 Esplanade East). Attendance is limited to the current provincial public health outdoor event limits. Please wear masks and follow social distance protocols.
Catherine RoddExecutive Officer, [email protected] ext. 4071
1-800-268-3781 ext. 4071