By: By Brendan Kennedy. –
A coalition of nearly 4,000 individuals and organizations is calling on the federal government to implement a guaranteed basic income to address the systemic gender inequities exposed and intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Citing the disproportionate economic impact of the pandemic on women, who have suffered greater job losses compared to men, and the inability of employment insurance to assist most unemployed women before the pandemic, the coalition of women’s groups and basic income advocates says now is the time for Canada to implement a basic income.
“The human rights of women and children are really under a lot of pressure,” said Josephine Grey, a member of the Basic Income Network Canada. “It’s unbearable for me as a grandmother.”
Women’s participation in the labour force is at its lowest level in 30 years, according to a recent study by the Royal Bank of Canada, while domestic violence has increased in some parts of the country by up to 30 per cent.
“The number one reason why a lot of women don’t leave an abusive partner is because they don’t have the financial resources to do so,” said Tracy Smith-Carrier, a professor in the School of Social Work at King’s University College at Western University.
A guaranteed basic income could take many forms, but in essence it is an automatic, unconditional cash payment delivered by the government to all individuals on a periodic basis.
It would, theoretically, replace other government assistance programs — such as Employment Insurance and welfare — that critics say are insufficient, administratively onerous and exclusionary.