What is a guaranteed basic income? How does it work and how can it help those living in poverty? The concept of providing a guaranteed basic income to all who qualify is an idea that has been around for some time but is a topic that is currently enjoying a higher level of interest than ever before. There are several models and methods of implementation for such a program but basically anyone who qualifies because of their low-income level is provided with a monthly payment that is without conditions on the recipient. The amount a person receives is usually a figure which uses the poverty line or level relevant to the recipient’s location and provides predetermined percentage of the difference between the recipient’s income and the poverty line. The opportunity for an individual to receive this extra money can make a huge difference in their lives. Imagine what getting an extra $1000.00 or more a month can mean to a person or family which is living month to month to simply keep a roof over their heads or food in the cupboards.

I recently attended a North American basic income congress in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada where we were able to attend several very informative break out sessions on various topics relevant to basic income. There were presenters from the USA, Canada and other countries around the world. In addition, we heard from people who are currently enrolled in a three-year basic income pilot project currently being conducted here in Ontario in three different communities. The opportunity to hear these recipients describe how much this added income has meant to them and their families was inspiring.

Besides the obvious improvement in the lives of these recipients there was also a real sense that they are also now feeling much more of a member of their community. They can participate in various activities, eat healthier which can also mean less trips to the doctor and need for medication. When they do need medication or other health related needs they can now afford them. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, they now have a higher level of self esteem and the human dignity they are entitled to. I shall further discuss basic income in a future article.

About the author:

Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is past president of the Ontario Regional Council of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. He is currently chair of the National Social Justice Committee of the Society in Canada. He is married to his dear wife Pat and they have six daughters and eleven grandchildren. Jim has been a member of the Society since the 1970’s.


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