What Basic Income Could Mean For You

A basic income guarantee could completely change the way you make decisions and live your life.

Basic income acts as a springboard, not only by helping you avoid the anxiety of falling into poverty traps, but also by launching you forward into new opportunities. 

Life is full of big decisions, and when you’re not held back by fear and want, it’s easier to commit to things like starting a business, going back to school or creating a family. Without the looming risk of losing it all, people are able to grow and thrive.

Everyone’s circumstances are different and they change. In addition to being a student or employer, you may also be a parent. Your life may be affected by your race, gender, Indigenous status or a health condition or disability. You may be an immigrant, or live in an area especially impacted by climate change. Technological disruption may require you to transition to a new job or way of doing things. 

Having the security of a basic income means you have options and you get to decide because you know your life best.

Life-changing Basic Income Stories

BICN strives to make diverse Canadian voices heard by the public and policy-makers. Read stories shared with us by recipients of the Ontario Basic Income Pilot that ended prematurely in 2019 and of those who benefited or could have benefited from the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) in 2020 in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Stories edited for clarity)

A Person Escapes Debt and Stigma

The Ontario Basic Income Pilot allowed me to get out from under payday loans. This helped me feel a sense of dignity again. It also gave me hope that I could pay off some of my other debt and even invest in a cheap car. A basic income helped get rid of the feeling that I was being looked down on by my neighbours and community.

A Student Parent is Forced to Step Away from Their Studies

My marriage ended abruptly a few months before the COVID-19 outbreak, and my ex-partner was unable to safely care for our child. This meant I had to leave my PhD studies in epidemiology to take care of our young child full-time. Doing so suspended my student stipend.

A basic income in Canada would have meant that I, along with other student parents, would not have had to leave school in order to take jobs to pay for food and rent during the pandemic.

A Student’s Life is Changed 

I was a full-time student and had a (non-paid) placement four days a week. This left almost no time for a part-time job. I remember being in tears because no one would hire me for Sundays only. Then, five days later, I was accepted into the Ontario Basic Income Pilot. Having access to a basic income changed my life. 

A Cancer Survivor Who Can’t Afford Rent

I was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer one year ago. Since then, I have had to rely on CPP Disability (Canadian Pension Plan) with a top-up from the Saskatchewan Assured Income Disability Plan.

My rent alone equated to more than my CPP disability cheque. I did not have enough left over to pay for monthly food, bills and living costs.

My daughter has been helping me financially. If it weren’t for her, I would most likely be living on someone’s couch. Most of us are aware that undue financial stress can cause mental health and physical decline. This only puts more stress on our current health system. 

Our democracy is not working, and it hasn’t been working for a long time — this goes back before COVID-19. If I had a monthly basic income, I would be able to purchase healthy foods and complementary therapies for the side effects of my cancer. I could pay my rent and bills and not have to feel embarrassed to ask my family for financial help. 

I don’t qualify for any of the current relief packages provided by the government of Canada. I support a basic monthly income based on a living wage starting NOW! What’s been distributed as “relief” should have been in place as a basic safety net long before the pandemic. Now we know that it is possible. 

A Single Mother Who is Able to Make a New Plan

Last November, my son and I were forced to leave the suburban home we were sharing with my now estranged husband and move to Montreal. After the move I continued my work as a yoga teacher, but it was difficult because all of my classes were back near this former home. I had to battle rush hour traffic every day and spent over $300 a month on gas. Then, because of COVID-19, all of these classes were cancelled and I had zero money coming in. 

I was so relieved when the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) came into effect. I was eligible to receive $2,000 a month, which meant I didn’t have to commute for hours each day or spend huge amounts of money on gas. The best part was that I was no longer exhausted and could focus more on my son.

Having CERB each month gave me security. It allowed me to take the time to research work that I could do safely and remotely from home. I have also looked into taking courses online with the goal of broadening how I can make money.

Previously, I was too busy driving from one class to another to have the time or energy to find new work. Now I can find something that’s a better fit for my new life in the city. 

I hope that Canada will see the value in providing a basic income for all Canadians so that everyone has the opportunity to improve their lives and the lives of their families.

A Person Who Gains Confidence 

At one point I was stuck in a cycle of debt and was always broke. The Ontario Basic Income Pilot was an amazing help. It gave me the mental energy I needed to make my life better and the confidence to really start planning out my future.