by Heather Irving
I am writing because I feel strongly that it is time for all Prince Edward Islanders to embrace the need for BASIC INCOME GUARANTEE (BIG). Much work has already been done to bring BIG information to communities across the Island. The PEI Working Group for a Livable Income has spent the past twenty years working with low income individuals and families, as well a community groups and politicians.
Political parties in the PEI Legislature unanimously supported the implementation of BIG in collaboration with the Federal Government, in November 2020. In addition, eliminating poverty was recognized as a priority by all parties in the PEI Legislative Assembly in the adoption of the Elimination Strategy Act in 2021.
Forty percent (40%) of PEI’s population struggle below the livable income level or close to the edge. This is simply not acceptable.
What we need is a province-wide Demonstration Project of 5-7 years with a built-in, stringent evaluation procedure. Access must be universal with no strings attached – meaning that it would be independent of a relationship to the workforce. To be eligible an individual would have to be a bona fide resident of PEI and have income below the national poverty line.
Basic Income Guarantee is doable and, yes, it costs money. However, it is the right thing to do. Taking low income people out of poverty will result in greater prosperity for all.