Ontario Basic Income Network (OBIN)
Annual Report for the Fiscal Year 2020-2021
Ontario Basic Income Network (OBIN) is a coalition committed to seeing Basic Income implemented in Ontario. It’s a bold vision of dignity and justice for everyone, regardless of work status. OBIN works to increase the public understanding of and lobby governments for the implementation of basic income by building and strengthening a network of provincial advocates.
We believe that any Basic Income program includes these core values:
Adequacy: It’s enough money to have one’s basic needs met
Autonomy: It offers people more life choices
Dignity: There is no stigma attached to accessing it
Non-conditionality: It is provided with no (or very few) strings attached
Universality of Access: Anyone who needs it, gets it
OBIN has had a busy and active year in spite of an ongoing trend of indifference amongst a number of senior government officials to the increasing financial stressors experienced by a growing number of Canadians. Regardless, we remain resolved to work even harder for an idea whose time has come. The majority of Canadians now realize that Basic Income is not only the right thing to do, but it is essential if we are to have economic stability and a just society.
Last fall, we reached out to our members requesting that they apply for executive positions in order to direct and supervise the work of OBIN in the coming fiscal years. As a result, we have new members with fresh ideas, expertise, and energy to guide us during this critical time. We also wish to thank those who have contributed so much in the last year to make OBIN a recognized advocate in the Basic Income movement:
• Saul Bottcher and Aleksei Minaev, for providing the technical skills to build our new website and related database.
• Sharon Zoschke, for the enormous work in organizing and populating the new website.
• Adam Zvric, who expanded our adventure into the social media world. • Joe Foster, who has been our facilitator and co-ordinator since 2018. For those that do not know Joe, he has worked night and day advocating for Basic Income and has facilitated many new
relationships to help build the network. Joe has agreed to remain as an Advisor on OBIN’s coordinating team to ensure a smooth transition for the new facilitator.
In addition, a few people who are key to our smooth operations are: • Richard Pommainville, as Treasurer.
• Kevin Smith, who faithfully sees that Minutes are taken and made available to members expeditiously.
• John Mills, who continues to be our “first responder” for all technical issues.
The OBIN Coordinating Team is comprised of many committed and energetic volunteers. In addition to supporting their specific roles as members, all have participated in webinars with various groups across the province. Below are highlights from others who continue to make significant contributions in our efforts to reach out to every person in Ontario. In addition, we have actively collaborated with other Basic Income organizations across Canada.
External Relations Coordinator, Barbara Boraks
2021 was a year in which we saw a lot of progress both in our developing sector networks and working with federal politicians.
In the Case for Basic Income series, we began to develop Case Studies surrounding Justice, Agriculture, Fisheries, and Municipalities. We have gathered wonderful teams of topic experts and each new Case Study will result in a two-page evidence-based briefing note. The studies and networks that we have already developed surrounding the Case for Basic Income for Health, Food Security, Women, the Arts, Work, and Finance, proved to be invaluable tools in 2021. As a result, OBIN was invited to be a “witness” at four different Federal Standing Committees, including the Status of Women, Finance, Human Resources, Skills and Social Development, and Health. In addition, several points presented in a briefing note for Indigenous and Northern Affairs were incorporated into the Standing Committee’s final report.
Internal Relations Coordinator, Caterina Lindman
A new Basic Income Affiliate was started in Stratford, led by Carmen Grant, and the Kingston Affiliate was revitalized under the leadership of Jamie Swift. In addition, we have active Affiliates in the Waterloo Region, Hamilton, Peterborough, and Ottawa, which was recently revitalized by Joe Foster.
During 2021, three op-eds on the subject of basic income were published; one in the Waterloo Region Record and the remaining two in all Metroland Division newspapers, which includes the Waterloo Region Record, the Hamilton Spectator, the Peterborough Examiner, the St. Catherine’s Standard, the Welland Tribune, and the Niagara Falls Review.
Affiliates also helped spread awareness in their communities and beyond by coordinating educational webinars about Basic Income. Hamilton hosted several virtual panel discussions and Q&A sessions, as well as holding a vigil for Basic Income in partnership with the United Church. Basic Income Waterloo Region partnered with the Waterloo Region Legal Clinic to host a webinar just before the Federal Election.
OBIN also got involved in the Federal Election. Affiliates in Ottawa, Hamilton, and Kingston bought “Basic Income Now” lawn signs to sell to supporters in their communities. Several Federal Candidates, including Mike Morrice, the
newly elected Green MP from Kitchener Centre, Yasir Naqvi, the newly elected Liberal MP for Ottawa Center (who had been the Ontario Attorney General during the Basic Income pilot), and Julie Dzerowicz, the Liberal MP who narrowly won her race in Davenport and is now the author of a Basic Income Private Member’s Bill, signed the Basic Income pledge. Affiliates also participated in MPP Advocacy Week. We had over a dozen meetings with members of the NDP caucus, four meetings with Progressive Conservatives, and several meetings with Liberal MPPs, including the office of Stephen Del Duca, the Party leader. We also continue to have ongoing discussions with the office of Mike Schreiner, the leader of the Green Party. These meetings helped Affiliates build and strengthen relationships, increasing the political will for Basic Income.
Content Manager, Piers Eaton
Piers continued to make https://www.obin.ca user-friendly and a source for high-quality and up-to-date information. In the last year, Piers was responsible for:
• Curating content and sending out the monthly newsletter and various e-mail blasts to over 500 members and supporters;
• Uploading the meeting minutes to the website;
• Reorganizing the “BI and Politicians” section of the website (formerly “BI and Senators”);
• Revitalizing the “BI and Faith” section of the website;
• Restructuring the “BI Quotations” section;
• Consistently uploading new webinars to the website resource page;
• Adding new blogs to the website; and
• Undertaking miscellaneous additional website maintenance initiatives.
Promotion and Communications, Elaine Power
Elaine has recently undertaken the social media role and looks forward to expanding OBIN’s network to include a greater number of Ontarians, especially younger voters.
Elaine has also been working to re-energize the Kingston Affiliate, which has recently created and launched a new website: kingstonbasicincome.ca. The new site has the capacity to accept donations, which will be used, among other things, to purchase more Basic Income Now signs. We will also have a “Merch” Shop open soon for people to order t-shirts, hoodies, caps, etc.
The website was purposefully built to be easily exported and duplicated for other Affiliates to adopt. We plan to ramp up the Basic Income Now campaign for the upcoming provincial election, with the goal of putting basic income at the top of the political agenda.
Independent Artist, OBIN Advisor, Craig Berggold
Craig has been actively involved with the Arts community, engaging them in pressing for a Basic Income. The Arts community is one of the major groups affected by the lack of appropriate income supports, which has been severely worsened by the pandemic. Below are highlights of activities that support this and other OBIN endeavours.
Craig was the co-organizer for the Basic Income Now
campaign leading up to the 2021 Federal election,
facilitating the distribution of hundreds of lawn signs
across the country. He was also the Graphic Designer
for the “Basic Income Now” campaign logo.
Another key contribution was the “Basic Income Now”
video, which Craig directed, co-wrote & co-produced,
and was subsequently distributed on social media
leading up to federal election on September 13, 2021.
Craig was featured in the following article: “Basic income video by gig worker as a call to urgent action.” basicincometoday.com/basic-income-video-by-gig-worker was-a-labor-of-love-and-a-call-to-urgent-action/.
He was a key actor in dozens of webinars from South Africa to Europe to Canada, including “The Case for Basic Income and the Arts”, “Extraordinary Insurrection – The Power of Art for Universal Basic Income” with the Scottish Artists Union at the 20th International Basic Income Earth Network Congress, Glasgow, Scotland, and “No One Left Behind: Income Security for 21st century, Research & Social Media Advocacy”, with author Dr. Elaine Power at the 19th Annual North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress.
Craig consulted with Provincial Arts Service Organizations of Ontario (an advocate for 270,000 arts & culture workers) for resolutions proposing shifting provincial income supports to basic income principles; and a call for basic income demonstration project for precarious workers & artists. Craig also actively participated in OBIN’s Advocacy Lobby Week, organizing meetings with OLP and NDP culture critics Amanda Simard (Glengarry—Prescott— Russell) and MPP Dr. Jill Andrew (Toronto—St. Paul's).
Treasurers Report, Richard Pommainville
OBIN had a total revenue of $2,444, which was received from memberships and donations. There was a total of $1,830 in expenses, which were related mostly to communication tools. As of August 31, 2021, there was a cash balance of $3,602 in the account with $1,583 restricted.
Looking ahead to 2022….
The June 2, 2022, Ontario Provincial Election and the Fall 2022 municipal elections are a major focus for OBIN. This is an opportunity to further raise awareness of income inequality and to ensure that “Basic Income Now” is
promoted as a way to improve the current financial challenges that many Ontarians are facing.
Together, with Basic Income Canada Network (BICN), Coalition Canada Basic Income – revenue de base, Basic Income Canada Youth Network (BICYN), UBI Works, and the Affiliates across Ontario, we will amplify Ontarians’ voices by working toward a Federal Basic Income Guarantee.
This includes requesting that the provincial candidates:
• Advocate and work with the Federal Government on the development and implementation of a Basic Income Guarantee;
• Shift the existing provincial income support system toward Basic Income principles that require less conditionality while providing recipients with a liveable income with more autonomy.
OBIN is currently facilitating a Working Group to develop and implement a strategic plan for escalating Basic Income as a priority for the 2022 Ontario Provincial Election.
The plan will include a two-pronged approach:
• Continue to build the Basic Income movement and expand its supporters to advocate for a basic income; and
• Educate, support, and identify Basic Income champions within the candidates for elected positions.
Many of the tactics used during the federal election will be replicated for the provincial and municipal elections, including utilizing a variety of communications tools to build support. OBIN is seeking further financial donations to assist with the purchase of signs and merchandise for distribution.
Critical actions for 2022 include:
• Development of additional Cases for Basic Income to assist with discussions with politicians and other key stakeholders.
• Collaboration and relationship building with other community organizations focused on income security that will help strengthen our message.
• Building the Affiliate networks in Ontario to increase our reach, strengthen our voice, and to encourage supporters to have discussions with their local politicians and communities.
Alongside OBIN’s supporters and the existing Basic Income Network, we will continue to build a strong and powerful movement for the implementation of a Basic Income.