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JANUARY 2017



GREEN WOOD COALITION STATEMENT ON BASIC INCOME GUARANTEE

It is the position of Green Wood Coalition that eliminating poverty is an urgent health, human rights and social justice issue that requires action on the part of the municipal, provincial and federal governments. As a street-level, charitable organization that uses a community model of caring to walk alongside people living with poverty, mental illness, addiction and other disability, in Port Hope, Green Wood Coalition has observed, first hand, the detrimental effects of poverty on individuals and families. We are asking for the immediate implementation of a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) to provide a minimum annual income at a level that is sufficient to meet basic needs and allows individuals and families to live with dignity, regardless of work status. BIG is currently the subject of a province-wide consultation process--the reality is that a great deal of discussion and consultation on poverty reduction in recent years has resulted in very little action. We fear that further consultation could be viewed as a diversionary tactic to avoid tackling poverty. Basic income guarantee, which is an unconditional cash transfer from the government to citizens to provide a minimum annual income and is not tied to labour market participation, is an essential component of a strategy to effectively eliminate poverty, ensure all Canadians have a sufficient income to meet their basic needs, and live with dignity and to eliminate health inequities. We are in support of the Emergency Resolution recently endorsed by ACORN, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, YWCA Toronto, PFIB and others, that states: “Whereas Senator Hugh Segal said: “It is hard to conclude that the income support that is now available for those living in poverty is adequate in any meaningful way”; Be it resolved that the Government of Ontario immediately raise the Ontario Works rate for a single individual to $1,320 per month and raise ODSP rates by at least $500 per month.” Currently in Canada, Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplements (GIS) are forms of guaranteed income supplement programs, which are income tested cash transfers for seniors at age 65 and older. Since their implementation, the incidence of poverty in seniors dropped substantially from 21.4% in 1980 to 5.2% in 2011. Given the magnitude of the social and economic costs of poverty and the resources being spent on countering the negative effects of poverty, it is more prudent to spend those resources on prevention. Following the existing, proven model of OAS and GIS is a way forward to implementation of a BIG for those under 65. Further consultation on models is unnecessary. “After decades of intensifying austerity and eroding income supports, social assistance in Ontario is now so wretchedly inadequate that people are unable to feed themselves properly, retain their housing or maintain their health. Total benefit income for those who depend on Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) locks nearly 895,000 Ontarians into deep poverty.” –Put Food in the Budget Campaign (PFIB), December 2016 Green Wood Coalition urges our Municipal, Provincial and Federal government representatives and leaders to act immediately to implement a basic income guarantee and address the human rights and social justice violations caused by negligence of poverty issues in our country.

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