On blue bags and season’s greetings
While Compass columnist Pat Cullen calls for a basic income, I am advocating for a guaranteed annual income (GAI) so Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador can eliminate most, if not, all poverty.
Our provincial poverty reduction strategy officials, and our federal and provincial elected representatives should be asking Canadians and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians how we can improve and modernized our social safety net.
I say that Prime Minister Trudeau, and the 13 provincial/territorial premiers, including Dwight Ball’s Liberals, should implement a one-stop GAI scheme for Canada’s most disadvantaged or most vulnerable residents — persons with disabilities, the working poor, low or fixed income seniors, mental health consumers and families, the unemployed, the underemployed and the homeless.
In a 1984 book called “Canadian Churches and Social Justice,” governments have basically three ways to help those “in need;” 1) progressive taxation through tax credits, like the disability tax, family and seniors tax credits, and GST/HST tax rebates; 2) public services and social agencies, such as medicare (MCP), NLPDP (or pharmacare), NLHC (subsidized housing), home heating rebate program, CPP, EI, OAS, seniors GIS, AES income support, special needs program, and student aid, and 3) minimum wage laws.
Unfortunately, these government initiatives have had little, if any effect in combating poverty.
As for the private sector, like non-profit community, religious and social organizations, the best they can offer is band-aid solutions, like food banks, soup kitchens, Christmas hampers and so on, but while they are helpful to those people in need, it doesn’t eliminate nor reduce poverty.
The latest statistics, in Canada, clearly show that there are 4.9 million Canadian women, men and children living in poverty. According to the Newfoundland amd Labrador’s government’s poverty reduction strategy there are approximately 27,000 low-income residents (2011).
For many families and individuals, social assistance (or AES income support) now acts as their primary source of income. They and other low income groups are struggling to pay for the rent, heating, food and other basic living necessities, and, in many cases, their low income is wholly inadequate. For others, income sup- ports provides a top-up to their low wages, Employment Insurance and other low-income sources.
Some people believe that governments cannot reduce or eliminate Poverty. On the contrary, we cannot afford to not too.
Recently, there have been many Canadian groups and individuals calling for either a GAI or as Patricia Cullen points out basic income. They include former Senator Hugh Segal, Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island NDP; the Federal Green Party, Liberal party members; various Canadian communities, and even the Canadian Medical Association endorse it. Says Cullen: “poverty leads to hunger and bad nutrition. Both kill and they are very costly killers.” Poverty can also lead to mental illness, especially depression.
In my opinion, a GAI for Canadians is a logical, practical alternative to the current patchwork of overlapping federal, provincial, and municipal social programs. The GAI could be important in another sense in that it could eliminate the bureaucratic divisions and duplication between the various levels of government.
So, Justin Trudeau, Rona Ambrose, Thomas Mulcair, Elizabeth May, and Premier Dwight Ball, let’s have a GAI for all disadvantaged Canadians.
“That’s it,” I said, stamping snow off my boots in the porch. “I’m done with the depot.”
“Harry, my distressed love,” said Dearest Duck, “what’s making your water hot?”
“My Duck,” said I, “Something’s been on my mind, so I’m done with saving up bottles and cans and lugging them off to the green depot.”
Dearest spocked her eyebrows into a matching set of question marks. “I fear there is no hope,” I said. B’ys, listen. Remember the so called Cold War back in the last century?
All hands were afraid that Communists would fire off a volley of atom bombs and blow up the world.
That didn’t happen. Nobody blew up the world.
Remember the era of WMDs — Weapons of Mass Destruction?
There was induced fear that Bad Guys would blow up the world.
That didn’t happen. Bad Guys didn’t blow up the world.
Back in November, all hands in the Kingdom of Justin and lands elsewhere paid their respects to military troops dead and gone and offered support to troops still topside…
“Harry?” said Dearest Duck. “Have you been drinking adulterated herbal tea again?” “Not I, my Duck.” “The cold war, Harry? Any need of this just before Christmas?” “I’m just saying.” “You better say it more clearly then,” said Dearest Duck.
It’s coming on Christmas and it seems we’ve forgotten something about hoping for peace on Earth … and saving the planet — I s’pose — seeing as I’m talking about waving bye-bye to blue bags.
It’s coming on Christmas and we’ve forgotten something that was on the tippy-top of our minds back when the Western World was facing-off with the Communists.
We’ve forgotten, or are in denial about, the fact that there are sufficient nuclear armaments still stockpiled on this planet to blow us all to kingdom come, eh b’ys?
As far as we know, there are none in the Kingdom of Justin, but once upon a time — if Mr. Google is telling the truth — a Fat Man A-Bomb sat like a humongous deadly egg at CFB Goose Bay. “Harry, my love…” “Hold on, hold on.” Nowadays all hands are encouraged to go green, or whatever. Think of your children and grandchildren is the rallying cry that urges us to recycle cans and bottles and shopping flyers.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m concerned about the future and what awaits my grandchildren … and yours too, for that matter.
But I don’t think lugging
Slant empty Coke cans to the green depot is going to help in any significant way to determine tomorrow, so to speak. “Harry…” “My Duck…” Think about this: here we are diligently sorting our refuse into colour-coded plastic sacks — Yes, plastic sacks, albeit some magically bio-degradable version of plastic — and bundling it off to recycling depots.
Here we are bravely [?] recycling despite the repressed knowledge that WMDs truly do exist — not all of them worlds away …
… and we can be sure of this — there’s an idiot somewhere licking his index fingertip hoping for the chance to…
“Harry, stop it! I’m going to lick my fingertip and hit Delete on your keyboard,” said Dearest Duck exhibiting more than a smidgen of disgust with me.
In my opinion, a GAI for Canadians is a logical, practical alternative to the current patchwork of overlapping federal, provincial, and municipal social programs. It’s coming on Christmas and my most fervent wish — truly — is for peace on Earth and good will among its inhabitants.
“My Duck,” said I, “I fear you misunderstand me. I truly want to save the world…and I pray for peace on Earth.”
But, b’ys, I don’t think saving tin cans and blue-bagging paper is a major step in that direction.
I s’pose though, even small steps are important.
We have to remember a larger … well, you get the point.
It’s coming on Christmas and my most fervent wish — truly — is for peace on Earth and good will among its inhabitants.
Prob’ly I’m way too simplistic in saying that we must not allow ourselves to be misdirected. I’m certain Dearest Duck would be the first to say, “Harry, my erstwhile Cold War honey, “simple” might be more the word for you.”
Nonetheless, at the risk of riling some of you, I’m going to hum a little bit of this Christmas hymn: “O little town of Bethlehem…hum…hum…hum…the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
So, I hoist the dregs of my bottle — Alright, I’ll heave the empty in my recycle bin — and bid you a Merry Christmas — Yes, frig it all, Merry Christmas!— and peace among terrestrials of good will.
Thank you for reading.
On Sunday, Dec. 13, members of the Spaniard’s Bay Volunteer Fire Department met up with Santa Claus and a few residents of the town to help light a Christmas tree. The jolly old man in the red suit was more than happy to help out, while also taking time to appear in photos with those who came out for the event.