Guelph council throws support behind a national livable income program

Guelph City Council in session. Ken Hashizume/CJOY

Guelph city council passed a motion in support of a national guaranteed livable income program.

The motion was brought forward by Coun. Carly Klassen at Tuesday’s regular council meeting. Her recommendation was to direct the mayor to write letters to the prime minister, the premier, and local MP and MPP, calling on upper levels of government to work collaboratively toward such a program.

“One of the levers we have at the municipal level is advocacy,” Klassen said. “I connect with a lot of people and I see them on a regular basis. It is hard to hear all of these things and see all these people and feel like, ‘Are we just going to sit here when we have these levers?'”

There was a lot of discussion surrounding the benefits of a guaranteed livable income. One delegate suggested that this would allow people to go back to school and retrain, or be able to take care of a loved one who is too sick without having to worry about paying the rent or bills.

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There were others who wonder whether a guaranteed livable income would actually motivate people to go out and work. Some opponents believe most would rather stay home adding that businesses are still going through a labour shortage in the aftermath of the COVID-19 lockdowns.

“I think this looks at things more holistically,” said Klassen, adding there is no “magic bullet.”

Ontario had a pilot program in 2017 where low-income residents living in Hamilton, Brantford, Thunder Bay, and Lindsay would receive a basic income. That ended soon after the Ford government was elected in 2018.

“There has been a lot of research done on guaranteed livable income,” Klassen said. “The federal and provincial governments have the resources and the people to be able to create the framework and build on the concepts that exist out there.”

Three people opposed the motion: Mayor Cam Guthrie and Councillors Dan Gibson and Michelle Richardson. Richardson proposed an amendment that would ask the federal government to explore what a “livable income” is but that was defeated.


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