On September 15, the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition held a Basic Income Rally now at the Healing Totem on Front Street.
President Kerry Nolan encouraged the crowd of over 40 to engage in a dialogue exploring what a Basic Income could look like.
“Right now what we’re here to do is start the conversation,” Nolan said.
A basic income would give everyone an equal platform, so “people don’t have to feel disrespectful or not part of a society.”
“When you have to go to an assistance program and ask for money, nobody likes to ask for things, it’s really hard on people,” Nolan said.
“The way the systems are set up now is you have to prove it. It’s degrading and it’s intrusive. If we went to something like Basic Income, they would feel respected because their basic daily living needs are being met.
Yukon Senator Pat Duncan, who is part of the Independent Senators Group, said a Basic Income is something that has already been tried in Canada.
Former Canadian Senator David Crawl chaired a special committee on poverty 50 years ago, Duncan said.
Its findings in 1991 indicated that we pour billions of dollars every year into a welfare system that only treats the symptoms of poverty but leaves disease intact.
Duncan said basic income is also mentioned in the 1970 Royal Commission on the Status of Women; the 1985 Royal Commission on Economic Union and Women’s Development Prospects; and the Appeal for Justice for Missing and Indigenous Women and Girls.
From 1974 to 1978, the town of Dauphin, Manitoba ran a pilot project called “M Income”. Dauphin’s research, Duncan said, has shown that “when an individual is confident that they have an income to purchase healthy food, there are fewer hospitalizations and better health outcomes.”
With these examples, Duncan asked why not all Canadian jurisdictions have a basic income guarantee in place.
“The reality is that the federal government has a role to play,” Duncan said. “There is the reality that federal programs exist to end poverty. “
The Basic Income model proposes the use of the tax system and administration by Revenue Canada.
“By using the tax system with the same rules that apply to everyone, which is accessible to everyone as long as they pay their taxes, the process is universal and everyone is eligible,” Duncan said. .
“It’s unconditional. It does not require maintenance and it does not require someone to be run by a bureaucracy or a social worker.
In April 2020, Duncan said 50 of his Senate colleagues wrote to the Prime Minister and other cabinet members about Basic Income.
“Half of the Senate, from different political perspectives, told the government, when this immediate emergency (COVID-19) subsided, to use the lessons of the PCU and to work out social and economic reforms and develop a positive legacy for all Canadians. “
Duncan believed in a basic income because of the “harsh reality” that many children and families live in poverty.
“A basic income guarantee was a good policy option to change this reality,” Duncan said.
Duncan told the crowd that a Basic Income is not a “magic pill” that will cure everything, but believes it is time to take action.
“It has been discussed, it has been tried in Canada and now is the time,” Duncan said. “It won’t be easy. It will take federal and territorial governments and all of us to continue lobbying. I encourage everyone here to continue working on this.
Contact John Tonin at [email protected]