Lobby Day Letter #5 - August 2020

Dear [MP name here],

As the country discusses the transition from CERB towards an enduring and just recovery, advocates across the country are calling for a national Basic Income program to be the cornerstone of this transition. A basic income would ensure everyone has sufficient income to meet their needs, providing both individual income stability as well as a much-needed stimulus for economic recovery. For such a program to be realized, federal leadership is indispensable – which is why I’m writing to you today.

Unfortunately, there continue to be misunderstandings about the nature of the basic income and what it might mean for Canada. Despite some misconceptions, the basic income we propose:

  • Provides a dependable income floor that complements health care and other existing social programs, as well as affordable housing, child care, and other in-kind supports still needing establishment. Advocates are not calling for a basic income at the expense of these other much-needed programs. The concern that basic income entails cuts to social services is not a worry about basic income itself, but about what austerity-minded opponents of all social programs might do if basic income were implemented.
  • Works with minimum wage legislation to avoid subsidizing low-wage employers.   A fair labour market is a foundation of any decent society. It requires legally enforceable employment standards, pay and employment equity requirements, and protected rights to organize and bargain collectively. Jobs with reasonable and safe working conditions and at least at the minimum wage levels of pay will always attract employees – and working people will be healthier and more productive when not forced into undesirable jobs for fear of starvation and homelessness.
  • Is demonstrably affordable, as illustrated by the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Basic Income Canada Network, and the World Bank. The COVID-19 debt is being incurred at very low interest rates. It’s normal practice to pay large debts (like war debts), over extended time periods. Economic stimulation, such as the Canada Child Benefit or proposed basic income, is fundamental to a healthy recovery. A basic income would reach more people and support a recovery sufficiently robust to create badly-needed jobs post-pandemic.
  • Is gaining support by provinces who are prepared for federal/provincial partnership. The four legislative parties in PEI have passed two unanimous motions (2016 and 2019) in support of a province-wide demonstration basic income program. The Premier and the PEI government are set to proceed. Now is the time for the federal government to join them.

For these reasons and more, I’m writing today to encourage you to take part in a Basic Income Lobby Week, happening from October 20th-22nd, 2020, organized by advocates from across the country. During this week, we welcome constructive dialogue with you about a Basic Income Guarantee, including about the topics outlined in this letter. The events for Lobby Week are co-sponsored by MPs Erskine-Smith, Gerretsen, Manly, Stanton, Wilson-Raybould, and Gazan.

We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you in October,