May 2020 Newsletter

Formation of Coalition Canada

Coalition Canada: BIG/RdB Action* is a new cross country coalition of experienced Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) activists. Affiliated with Basic Income Canada Network (BICN), the Coalition works as activists to complement their National Policy work. Groups from all provinces except Newfoundland, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut are currently represented. The Coalition came together following the second unanimous vote of the Prince Edward Island (PEI) Legislature to initiate negotiations with the Federal Government with a view to establishing a full province PEI basic income program.

The first project, now completed, was to write individualized letters to five crucial PEI political leaders, expressing appreciation for their commitment and efforts which are so important to all of us across the country.

The second project, now ongoing, is to write MPs and Senators urging Federal support for the PEI initiative.

The third initiative, now in early planning stages, is to hold a BIG Lobby Day in Ottawa next Fall. The messaging for that Day will extend beyond support for the PEI initiative. The Coalition is coordinated by Toni Pickard and meets about once a month. Any groups interested in the possibility of joining the coalition, please let Toni know at [email protected]

*RdB - ‘revenu de base’ - is the name the Quebec group uses for BIG.

Facilitator’s Corner

The C-Team is pleased to inform you that our website and database are now alive and healthy! A big thanks to all those who made this possible.

The website is an active up-to-date source of information for our Team, OBIN affiliates, and individuals who are advocating for a Basic Income program. Equally important, the OBIN website is designed as a recognized source and reference for quality information on Basic Income for politicians, journalists, business enterprises, the wide range of organizations that make up the fabric of our communities, and researchers who continue to explore the What, Why and How.

OBIN is part of a network of national (BICN) and provincial BI movements that have extensive knowledge of the impacts of Income Insecurity and the positive role a Basic Income could play. Documentation is available showing why a Basic Income is politically and economically feasible and, most importantly, why governments should begin immediately to design, test, and implement a national Basic Income as an essential component of the Recovery Program following the pandemic. We welcome comments, suggestions, and articles from all groups and sectors that make up our communities.

May 5 is Giving Tuesday. Think how you can contribute to the Basic Income movement. Encourage your friends to join OBIN and please contact anyone of us on the C-Team if you have suggestions.

Joe Foster, OBIN C-Team Facilitator   Contact Joe at [email protected]

Facebook Page

**OBIN recently set up a Facebook page.  Take a look and remember to follow us.

 Internal Relations Coordinator Report

There is so much going on in the Basic Income world that I find it astounding! We hope that our website can help you keep abreast of discussions and news around Basic Income and we encourage you to visit often.

I know there are discussions going on around the province but our communications are still catching up with what is happening during this crisis. Last month, we made an offer to local groups. OBIN will set up Zoom calls for you so that you can continue communicating. I suspect most groups have found ways of maintaining contact but Basic Income Waterloo Region (BIWR) took us up on our offer. The offer remains open to all of you so if you would like to contact me, I would be happy to make arrangements to make it happen for you.

Speaking of BIWR, they asked me to put out a thought to all of you for potential rewards to volunteers or fundraising. This is the gist of it:

A t-shirt or shopping bag or ??? that would bear the slogan:

"we can no longer privatize profit and socialize loss"

Using that specific text on a t-shirt could be too long to be effective or even readable on smaller sizes but perhaps something like this with an X through it would be feasible.

“private profits social costs"

A suitably designed graphic on a T-shirt or reusable grocery bag etc to be used to raise funds was an idea the Basic Income group here in Waterloo Region thought might be worth sharing to see what others thought.

If any individuals or local groups would like to comment or collaborate with BIWR, let me know at this email address and I'll put you in contact with them.

Stay healthy and stay safe, please. We need all of you in the trials that lay ahead of us.

John Mills, OBIN Internal Relations Coordinator

 External Relations Coordinator Report

We have learned many lessons from the current pandemic: our economy is not very resilient; PEOPLE are the economy; the government can – when required – move very quickly and can get money to people through various structures including the tax system. Together these three things (and a lot more) show us that a Basic Income model is not only possible but required.

We continue to work on many projects that can show the government that people, institutions, and sectors support Basic Income. In May, we will have 3 webinars for institutions and those with expertise who work in the Food Insecurity, Gender, and Health sectors. We continue to build strong relationships with elected officials and have confirmed that we will be holding a Lobby Day in Ottawa on October 20th – remotely if necessary. And – OBIN is proud to be a member of the recently created organization Coalition Canada: BIG/RdB Actions which has brought together Basic Income activists from almost every Province and Territory in Canada.

Barb Boraks, OBIN External Relations Coordinator

New Reality for those Receiving Social Assistance in Ontario

During Covid-19, the government has worked fast to fill people’s financial gaps. But even with the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, people are finding themselves feeling depressed and stuck in the “new reality.”

Others, on the other hand, have become silent expects in this global experience. The other day on Twitter, I read a quote by a Canadian businesswoman Arlene Dickinson. “Been […] quietly shedding a few tears. Sometimes it overcomes me. It’s ok to let the tears flow if you need to. Give yourself permission to feel exactly as you feel, […]. I know it will pass and I have hope, but that doesn’t mean it’s not hard.”

Indeed, for people like Ms. Dickinson, the momentary isolation and uncertainty will pass. For others, silent hope and quiet tears will remain.

Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) recipients can earn up to $100 per month for a single person and up to $200 per month for a family.

Those on these two programs prior to 1 March 2020, after earnings, will have to repay 50% of each dollar of the CERB. People applying for social assistance after 1 March 2020 will have to pay back everything.

With these measures, people on OW and ODSP will find themselves in a bigger financial hole than ever before. Not having enough money for a bus ticket already, without the CERB, they will not be able to provide their basic needs, trying to satisfy the government while paying off the benefit. And whilst our leaders will continue to look to social media for inspiration, romanticizing the pain of those like Ms. Dickinson, social support recipients will continue crying themselves to sleep, with nothing left but hope.

Monika Ciolek Former OW & Basic Income recipient