Minutes - July 2018

20 July 2018
First Face-to-Face meeting
Toronto, ON

Present: Joe Foster, Barbara Boraks, John Mills, Tracy Smith-Carrier
Guest: Jim Mulvale
Absent: Josh Nissa, Ron Hikel

 OBIN Goal Setting

  • Barbara, in consultation with Toni Pickard and Sheila Regehr, suggested a new overarching goal for OBIN (by the end of three years, Basic Income will be in a strong enough position to be adopted by the Ontario government).
  • BICN to focus on championing Basic Income at the Federal level, and OBIN should work on advancing Basic Income at the Provincial level.
  • OBIN’s Coordinating Team should provide the projects to achieve its goals, and the associated tasks to build the OBIN website on NationBuilder, for example, to fulfill these goals.

BICN’s goals are as follows:

  1. To complete the modelling/simulation report providing four different options for Basic Income (two options for income-tested, and two for universal) that the government could decide on at the federal level.
  2. To ensure common messaging across Canada (focusing on message integrity).
  3. To develop a clear communications strategy.

Projects for OBIN’s Coordinating Team

  1. Survey of Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) to determine existing support, what information is needed, and enlist their participation in an educational session at Queen’s Park.
  2. Plan an educational session at Queen’s Park in September 2019 (during Basic Income Week).
  3. Build a database of OBIN contacts (supporters and activists), including individuals, corporations/agencies/organizations and media contacts.
  • Need a 1-pager information sheet on basic income in our conversations with politicians. This could be taken from the new Primer series on the BICN website.

It was agreed that we would not release the goals and timelines to the broader OBIN membership until we have collectively determined the expectations and “asks” of the group.

  • Discussion centred on ensuring the integrity of our messaging, particularly in any media outreach. In person communication is preferred over electronic formats.


  • Roderick Benns, a journalist who has frequently written on the topic of Basic Income, had assistance from his wife in reaching out to Mayors across Canada to gauge their interest in Basic Income. Tracy could talk to her about the survey and mechanism employed to distribute it.


  • Barbara can be approached for a number of individuals to enlist support.


  • Should enlist the Youth Wing of political parties, including their input on how to speak to conservatives willing to think outside the box.


  • Should tap into the work being done in Oxford County and their Zero Poverty resolution (Tracy was part of the group that presented this to City Council).


  • Need to include conversations with small, medium and large farming (the latter is booming, while small and medium farms continue to struggle). The Farmers Union of Ontario could be a possible site for a Basic Income Pilot in the future.


  • The simulation/modelling work is expected to be completed in the Fall. This work will provide four options of Basic Income for consideration (at the Federal level), offering a platform to adopt for a Basic Income that would be politically feasible at this time. OBIN could adapt this work to the Ontario context. This work will help resolve some of the tensions in the OBIN community (whether the benefit should be Universal or Income-tested) and ensure consistent messaging – we want the government to adopt one of the Basic Income options proposed, one that will best fit our current reality.


  • The “ByUs Economy” of the Jewish-Christian Dialogue although not explicitly focused on Basic Income, is broader in scope. Some projects associated with this work include an Interfaith event in London looking at Charity versus Justice models (with the indigenous agency Atlohsa, the Sisters of St. Joseph, King’s University College, etc.); a film project questioning current systemic practices and individual blaming discourses; a podcast series (set of 10) still to be financed; and work on the Smart Cities project (in dialogue with St. Michael’s College, U of T).


  • There is significant competition for funding for the Smart City model (including a new institute, with 42 professors involved); with the case for a smarter city must be a compelling argument for sustainable social supports (provided through the security/stability of a Basic Income). Need to include other sectors in this discussion (fostering multi-sector convergence), including business and the banks. Money is still needed for these projects and thus discussions are on-going.


  • The recent success of the case put forward by Canada Without Poverty, restricting charities from advocacy efforts that account for more than 10% of their budgets (the 10% advocacy rule), is encouraging. Hopefully the government will not appeal this decision.


  • It was noted that Tim and Josh should work together to build the OBIN database. Jim will make inquiries (with Sheila, for example) about how to bring over the contacts from the existing list into the new one to be developed, including the correct information and full list of details (Rob has indicated that roughly 800 members are currently on the list).


  • There are ongoing discussions re the logos provided by Josh for OBIN. It was agreed that the logo should be bilingual using a modification of the BICN by inserting Ontario.


  • Joe will draft the initial letter of engagement, including information on the Coordinating Team goals and associated projects.


  • The goals were discussed by the group. The second goal was amended to read: “To build awareness and support for a Basic Income in Ontario.”


  • A new goal was added: “At the end of three years, Basic Income will be in a strong enough position to be formally adopted in Ontario.”


  • A suggestion was put forward to include a button (tick box) on the OBIN website differentiating those wanting to be on OBIN’s email distribution list (supporters), and those wanting to participate to the movement (activists). Individuals should join individually, or as part of an agency/organization/group (or media contact).


  • The software Slack was suggested as a way to provide internal communication among Coordinating Team members.


  • In the next few months, we aim to have our database created. We will need to determine how we’d like to canvas MPPs, including asking affiliate chapters if they have contacts that could be useful. The questions will need to be developed and a process to follow up with MPPs. Need to capitalize on existing relationships. Should also be wary of groups/individuals who are not likely to advance our work.


  • Jim Mulvale agreed to be an advisor to the OBIN Steering Committee for a period of a year, and not take on a separate coordinator’s role.


  • Barbara discussed the various funding agencies she has reached out to (e.g., London’s Community Foundation). We may want to look into community foundations elsewhere (e.g., Hamilton, Ottawa) to support our work. John knows someone in Hamilton, and Joe knows someone in Ottawa.


The next meeting date is to be determined.