Parliamentarians Call for basic income to address the rise of extremism

Winnipeg Centre MP Leah Gazan and Senator Kim Pate are urging the Parliamentary Review Committee into the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act to include consideration of the potential of a Guaranteed Livable Basic Income (GLBI) as a vital step to address the growing feelings of disenfranchisement and resulting radicalization and attraction of those struggling to extremist movements.

Following the illegal occupation that brought Ottawa to a standstill for almost a month, MP Gazan and Senator Pate are urging adoption of GLBI as one way to pull people out of poverty, provide opportunities for health, social and economic equality and security and meaningful alternatives to narratives that pit people in crisis against one another.

GLBI is a form of income support that could replace measures like current provincial and territorial social assistance payments. It would be available to anyone in Canada below the poverty line or who has suddenly lost their jobs or income. Unlike current social assistance payments, GLBI would provide enough money to live on and would not require people to be monitored to determine whether they meet degrading and invasive eligibility requirements. GLBI would ensure that no one has to fear suddenly losing everything through circumstances beyond their control, and that everyone has the means to make choices about how to best provide and care for themselves, their families and their communities.

“Millions of Canadians were struggling before COVID and almost two years after the pandemic began, many are finding life even harder,” said Gazan. “As I told my parliamentary colleagues last week, this suffering is leading to despair and fueling the rise of extremist movements. We need to replace despair with hope, and one way of doing that is with a GLBI.”

“Across parties and groups, increasing numbers of our colleagues are calling for serious consideration of GLBI,” said Pate. “The parliamentary review of the events of recent weeks and Canada’s federal budget must recognize that economic inequality and instability compromise the health, safety and well-being of all of us, most particularly those who are most marginalized.”

Both Senator Pate and MP Gazan have introduced bills to enact a national framework for a GLBI. Bill C-223 is awaiting second reading at the House of Commons, while second reading debate on S-233 is underway in the Senate.

Momentum around a GLBI continues to grow nationally and regionally. PEI is seeking federal assistance to establish a basic income program on the Island. With all-party support, senators and MPs are urging the federal government to seize this opportunity to test an implementation framework.