Without a Basic Income, I’d be Living on the Street

I’ve just read the news that the provincial progressive conservative government will be cancelling the basic income pilot.

I recently joined the board of Basic Income Canada Network and will be getting more and more involved in spreading awareness and doing advocacy work for a guaranteed minimum income.

To that end, I wanted to start with an explanation. The story of why I believe so strongly in the basic income movement.

In my late teens / early twenties I struggled with depression and generalized anxiety. I dropped out of university and was trying to start a web development business by freelancing. The cost of my medication was $650 a month. I wasn’t covered under my parent’s insurance since I had gone to university and dropped out. For reference, that was more than my rent. I struggled to pay my rent. I actually paid one month with one of those credit card cheques. It’s not that I didn’t know it was a terrible idea, that the fees were ridiculously high, I just didn’t have any other choice.

One day I was at the downtown bus stop and a man approached me. He was clearly not well, he started talking to me about the medication he had to buy. It was the same anti-depressants I was on. He wasn’t able to afford them, and now, he lived on the street.

I was very fortunate. I had family members, particularly an uncle, who was able to give me money. I got a basic income from my family and I managed to pull thru. Now I’d like to think I’m a good contributor to society, paying taxes, volunteering etc.

The only difference between me and that man on the street was that I had family members with money. That shouldn’t be the determining factor in someone’s life.

A guaranteed minimum income is not a handout, it’s a leg up. It allows folks to keep working without all the benefits disappearing. Right now almost all Canadian welfare programs will stop if you find a part-time job. You want to try driving for Uber? Your benefits are cut, sometimes directly to zero.

A guaranteed minimum income like the one Ontario was piloting has a gradual clawback mechanism which encourages people to keep working. It helps people start a small business by having a safety net. It helps folks stay in school, and helps reduce hospital visits.

That’s why I’m asking you to support a basic income by:

1) Sharing this post or the BICN homepage on your social networks.

2) Reach out personally to one or two people and talk to them about basic income. The personal outreach makes a big difference in convincing others.

3) If you’re in a position to do so, consider donating to BICN. Be it $10, $100 or even $10 000, that money will make a big difference to our ability to reach folks and spread awareness of basic income.

If you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments or to email me at stboisvert@gmail.com.

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