by Joe Foster, Basic Income Ottawa
The Opening of the 44th Session of the Parliament of Canada coincided with the International Week for Basic income, 19-25 September.
In response, more than 30 individuals and representatives of concerned organizations met at the steps of the West Block of Parliament to remind MPs that too many individuals and families in Canada continue to exist below the poverty line. Even In Ottawa, which is the second wealthiest city in Canada with a median family annual income of $76,000 (Stats Can 2020 figures), an estimated 1 in 7 families are food insecure according to Ottawa Public Health. In his seminal 1971 Report on Poverty, Senator Croll said that poverty is a cancer in our society and we, as Canadians, should be ashamed of it.
The reports this week indicate that food prices have risen over 10% in the past year and while slowing, they are expected to continue to rise. Notably,the cost of food STAPLES, – oatmeal. eggs. milk, meat, fresh vegetables, bread etc has risen more that 10% – by as much as 15% in many cases. The price of cooking oil, which is essential for many people from other countries, has risen by 50%. Consequently, the most vulnerable people are being the most affected by the rise in food prices. Food Bank usage has spiked in the past 6 months, an indicator of the underlying issue of the poverty crisis.
A Basic Income Guarantee is good not only for individuals and families living in poverty but also for communities and Small Businesses, and it will have little or no impact on inflation. In addition, it is a way to enhance civic cohesion and unity when we are still experiencing social strains across the country from the pandemic.
Parliament needs to put Canada ahead of politics and take urgent action to implement a national Basic Income program.
Basic income Ottawa