BI and Faith Communities

Light a Flame for a Guaranteed Basic Income

The United Church of Canada - 18 September 2020

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, pharmacare, 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 Rodd
Executive Officer, Communications
416-231-7680 x4071
1-800-268-3781 x4071

Economic Justice and Universal Basic Income: Ethical and Religious Perspectives

Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs - 1 September 2020

Interest in universal basic income (UBI) is surging in American popular and political discourse, as the United States continues to experience the social and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In general, UBI refers to periodic cash payments made to all, although the policy differs in theory and practice depending on national and political context. The policy, once considered as utopian in mainstream policy circles, is now the talk of high-profile politicians like Andrew Yang, who built his 2020 presidential campaign on UBI. Faith leaders are also part of the conversation to re-envision the role of government in providing for the common good. Take, for example, Pope Francis, who called for a salario universal (universal basic wage) at Easter. With ongoing debate in Congress on further government support following the March 2020 CARES Act, faith leaders and religious ethics can make important contributions to the ongoing conversation.

Historically, faith leaders and religious institutions have played key roles in on-the-ground activism on economic issues, contributing to broader debates on increasing inequality in the global economy. Not unrelated to the efforts of religious activists are the ethical principles informing advocacy in the field. Debates on UBI, for example, often intersect with a number of ethical issues, including the meaning and purpose of work; social justice and economic inequality; and the role of government, as exemplified by the principle of subsidiarity in Catholic social thought. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exacerbate inequality worldwide, examining religious and ethical perspectives on policies like UBI can provide critical direction on efforts to rebuild global society. 

This week the Berkley Forum asks: "How might the normative teachings of various faith traditions contribute to debates on UBI and government welfare, more broadly? What are some of the ethical challenges and possibilities of a policy like UBI? How might religiously grounded understandings of the common good contribute to conversations on fiscal policy? What are some key ethical and religious principles policymakers should have in mind when addressing economic inequality in the wake of COVID-19? What role does religious activism play in broader debates on economic justice and universal basic income?"

 *** Link to article is here.

Editorial Responses

> September 9, 2020

UBI and Jewish Traditions

Samuel Hayim Brody

> September 3, 2020

Unconditionality First: Prioritizing Family Values in Social Policy

Almaz Zelleke

> September 2, 2020

A Buddhist Perspective: Is Universal Basic Income Genuinely Caring, Compassionate, and Wise?

Ernest C. H. Ng

> September 2, 2020

For Catholic Social Thought, Basic Income Gets Work, Wealth, and Family Right

Kate Ward


> September 1, 2020

Basic Income and Islamic Almsgiving: Analogous Poverty Alleviation Tools

Katherine Bullock

 September 1, 2020

Freedom from, Freedom for: Universal Basic Income and Catholic Social Teaching

Conor M. Kelly

> September 1, 2020

Inequality is a Life Issue: Reflections from Christian Social Teaching

Heath W. Carter

> September 1, 2020

Islam and Universal Basic Income

Mohammad H. Fadel

> September 1, 2020

Supporting UBI: The Power of Religious Contributions

Thomas Massaro

> September 1, 2020

The Scandal of Poverty in the Midst of Plenty

Katherine Marshall