Cam­paign backs ba­sic in­come guar­an­tee

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - BY ANN WHEAT­LEY Ann Wheat­ley is a mem­ber of the Cam­paign for a Ba­sic In­come Guar­an­tee

Two-thirds of Is­lan­ders with in­come from work – about 63 per cent – make un­der $30,000/year, and 39 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion makes less than $20,000/year

Fol­low­ing sup­port for a ba­sic in­come guar­an­tee from the may­ors of Cal­gary and Ed­mon­ton, the P.E.I. Cam­paign for a Ba­sic In­come Guar­an­tee (CBIG) is call­ing on the Province to com­mit to a P.E.I.-based ba­sic in­come guar­an­tee pi­lot pro­ject as part of the poverty re­duc­tion strat­egy promised in the re­cent Speech from the Throne.

Cal­gary’s Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi and Ed­mon­ton’s Mayor Don Ive­son told re­porters in June that they would sup­port a ba­sic in­come guar­an­tee in prin­ci­ple.

“Dur­ing the re­cent P.E.I. elec­tion cam­paign, we were thrilled that the lead­ers of all four po­lit­i­cal par­ties en­dorsed the ba­sic in­come guar­an­tee as a strat­egy to re­duce and elim­i­nate poverty,” says Cooper In­sti­tute mem­ber Ann Wheat­ley, a C-BIG pro­po­nent.

“With mo­men­tum build­ing in the coun­try for a ba­sic in­come guar­an­tee, P.E.I. could lead the charge by adopt­ing this pol­icy that would make a real dif­fer­ence in the lives of peo­ple with low in­comes.”

A ba­sic in­come guar­an­tee - also known as “guar­an­teed an­nual in­come” or “min­come” — is a sys­tem where all adults liv­ing be­low the poverty line would re­ceive a ben­e­fit to bring them up to liv­able in­come amount.

“Un­doubt­edly, May­ors Nen­shi and Ive­son see the po­ten­tial ben­e­fits that a ba­sic in­come guar­an­tee could bring to re­cip­i­ents – ben­e­fits that would quickly spread through an en­tire city or province,” says Wheat­ley. “These would in­clude fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits to lo­cal busi­nesses and sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits to the over­all health of cit­i­zens.”

In 2011, it was es­ti­mated that 13 per cent of P.E.I.’s pop­u­la­tion were liv­ing with low in­come. Two-thirds of Is­lan­ders with in­come from work – about 63 per cent – make un­der $30,000/year, and 39 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion makes less than $20,000/year. In the past two years, the Cam­paign for a Ba­sic In­come has worked with Is­lan­ders in a half-dozen public work­shops in com­mu­ni­ties across the province to pro­pose a model that would work well for Is­lan­ders.

In ad­di­tion to Ed­mon­ton and Cal­gary, a ba­sic in­come guar­an­tee is also un­der con­sid­er­a­tion in coun­tries such as Switzer­land and Namibia, and has seen mod­els es­tab­lished in places such as Nether­lands, In­dia, Brazil and Alaska.

“A ba­sic in­come guar­an­tee would en­sure that ev­ery Prince Ed­ward Is­lan­der would re­ceive enough in­come to meet their ba­sic needs,” says Wheat­ley. “It’s a straight­for­ward pol­icy that would make an im­mensely valu­able in­vest­ment in Is­lan­ders.”

For more in­for­ma­tion on the P.E.I. Cam­paign for a Ba­sic In­come Guar­an­tee, visit http://cbig­pei.wix.com/c-big­pei.

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