By Joe McGinty
See original post here.
Council unanimously passed a motion advocating for more supports to help people with lower incomes by calling on provincial and federal governments to work together on a national Guaranteed Livable Basic Income program.
Council is also advocating for increases to Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support programs that have not kept pace with inflation.
“That the Region of Waterloo asks the provincial government to increase Social Assistance rates for both OW and ODSP to reflect the
costs of living and to tie these rates to inflation,” said Cambridge regional councillor Pam Wolf.
Wolf put forth the motion to get the region on board with a basic income program and lobby the necessary levels of government to pull the most vulnerable in society out of poverty.
These measures would benefit individuals, families as increasing poverty is putting unsustainable pressure on municipalities’ limited resources, read the motion.
Wolf adds that she has had many councillors and members of the community help write the motion and include as many relevant facts as possible.
“At the region our staff has had the heartbreaking job of administrating OW payments that they know all too well recipients can’t hope to live on,” said Wolf.
She adds that a one-bedroom apartment in Kitchener costs $1,900 a month and OW only pays out $700 monthly.
In a presentation given by Beatrice Henry, a resident of Waterloo, she outlined what a guaranteed basic income would look like and how it would benefit society.
“Basic income is a direct payment from the government to ensure that everyone has sufficient income to meet basic needs, participate in society and live with dignity regardless of work status,” said Henry.
At a time when minimum wage is less than a living wage, homelessness is on the rise and inflation is squeezing families for everything they have, Henry along with Wolf thinks a basic income is needed now more than ever.
Another regional councillor from Cambridge, Doug Craig, is supportive of the motion and adds that Wolf is always looking out for the little guy.
“This is basically making a request to the upper levels of government to start doing something about what we see everyday on the ground,” said Craig.
Regional councillor from Kitchener Colleen James thinks universal basic income will help people better educate themselves when given more financial stability.
“The only way to end this is to end parent poverty and stop thinking that people chose to be poor and stop making rules about receiving help and being punitive and judgmental,” added Wolf. “Guaranteed basic income could do this.”
The next steps for the region is to send a letter calling on all levels of government to participate and advocate for a livable basic income and ask other municipalities to join them in their fight to lift families out of poverty.