Today is the day of the throne speech in Ottawa. On Tuesday, at 12:30 p.m. on the eve of the throne speech, the United Church of Canada asked Canadians to light a candle in support of a guaranteed livable income. This symbolic action was to be followed by taking a photo, posting it on social media and sending it to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and our local MPs.
The United Church of Canada is far from alone in this campaign. In May, 41 Anglican and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada bishops sent a public letter to the PM, stressing that now is the time for guaranteed basic income. Some 50 senators have written to the federal government in support. On Aug. 10, MP Leah Gazan (NDP, Winnipeg Centre) submitted a motion (Bill M-46) to convert the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) into a guaranteed basic income. As of Sept. 18th, 39,664 people and organizations had added their signatures to this bill. An Angus-Reid poll in June 2020 revealed that 59 per cent of Canadians support this idea (four years ago, the percentage was significantly lower).
We need to act now to ensure a guaranteed livable income, in order that that all residents of Canada can live with dignity with the basic necessities of life.
The Religious Social Action Coalition of Newfoundland and Labrador is a non-partisan, multi-faith group of Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. We have been advocating the elimination of poverty in our province and country through a living wage for years. We have signed the M-46 petition.
Now, in the midst of the pandemic, is the time for action. While lamenting the pandemic, we applaud our “essential workers” who continue to risk their own health for the well-being of others. Too many of those workers are earning only a minimum wage, placing them below the poverty line. A disproportionate number are women. Thanks to our present governments, we had CERB and a number of other helpful pandemic-related programs to address vital, immediate needs. We need to act now to ensure a guaranteed livable income, in order that that all residents of Canada can live with dignity with the basic necessities of life.
This weekend our Jewish neighbours celebrate Rosh Hashanah, basically, the Jewish New Year — a time of reflection and renewal. Rosh Hashanah is followed 10 days later by Yom Kippur — a day of atonement. Symbolically, this is a time of new beginnings, commencing with a sombre reflection on wrong-doing, making amends and a refocusing on making the world a better place. What an opportune time for all of us to do the same, to proclaim that every person in Canada is entitled to a guaranteed livable income. So let us light our candles, write those letters and begin anew (building on the goodness of the past) so that no one is denied their rightful place in Canada’s economy.
Marion Pardy, co-ordinator
Religious Social Action Coalition of NL