Guelph Arts Council calls on the federal government to establish basic income

Guelph Arts Council (GAC) called on the federal government to establish a guaranteed basic income for everyone.

“We agree that basic income is essentially a human right,” said GAC executive director Patti Broughton. “When people have their basic needs met and have a certain level of a modest financial security, it can really put people in a better place to improve their lives, to find work, to start new businesses, to resume or continue their art practices.”

In March, GAC’s board of directors decided to sign on to a letter addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and others requesting the government create a universally accessible and unconditional basic income program that guarantees an income floor to anyone in need.

“Canada is at a crossroads. The government can continue to look the other way, allowing our most vulnerable to fall through the cracks of a systematically broken social safety net and perpetuate a history of economic insecurity, anxiety and fear. Or, we can take this opportunity to bring about much-needed change and make a meaningful difference that will lead to a brighter future.”

Though the pandemic has restricted the ability of many artists and arts technicians to generate income, it’s also shown that a basic income program is not only possible but beneficial, said Craig Berggold of the Ontario Basic Income Network (OBIN), comparing the concept to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

“(Basic income) has always been seen as an idea kind of outside the box … but CERB and the pandemic changed that,” he said. “It wasn’t a perfect basic income but it revealed what artists could do when they had a stable income.”

The rest of the article can be read here in Guelph Today.