International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
October 17 is identified as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This is a day when we acknowledge the effort and struggle of people living in poverty and a time to understand that it is poor people are the ones fighting against poverty everyday. Basic income is essential in order to eradicate poverty.
It is time to demand reform to our safety net of income security to a basic level of income for all Canadians — to reduce poverty and inequality. This is time to recognize the polarization of income (haves and have nots), and stop stigmatizing and degrading people living in poverty. It’s also a time to make decisions on a just society that will not be impacted by political concessions or changes in the political party in power. A basic income should be a right, not a privilege. Moving from welfare to an income transfer program is moving helplessness to hope. A Basic Income program should be given the green light immediately when the new Parliament opens as one step in eliminating racism and other forms of discrimination in Canada. It is also a logical element in creating the economic recovery plan as we transit out of the pandemic.
Basic income would not replace our current systems of employment, health, housing, child care, etc. These services would continue to exist. Individuals would access these other services having been empowered by having a stable income to enable decision making. Intense services would still be required for the most marginalized: those struggling with addiction, mental health and homelessness. It is recognized that income alone cannot change some of the systemic issues of poverty. As Martin Luther King Jr. stated in 1964, “There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we have the resources to get rid of it.”
We are all pursuing truth and reconciliation as we look back on the unjust structures, inequities and impacts colonization created. Here we are with growing poverty rates, people experiencing loss of hope and faith, and climate change impacting all of us. It is time for economic security for all and leadership for a just society.
You can click here fact sheet which examines the differences between the current system of social assistance and that of a cash transfer program, Basic Income. It clearly exhibits that Basic Income is a less stigmatizing approach to income security. We must invest in people in order to assist individuals who face income insecurity in achieving better outcomes.
On October 17, think about how you can use this information in discussions with your new member of parliament and other individuals who do not understand the current systems.