Annual basic income pilot project about to take off

Annual basic income pilot project about to take off

By PAT WATSON

Four thousand households in Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Lindsay are about take part in what has been termed a pilot project to learn the effects of receiving an annual basic income.

This experiment set to run for three years has been decades in the making, with retired Conservative senator Hugh Segal having been a driving force.

The $75-million fund will give provide single persons just under $17,000 per year, equivalent to 75 per cent of an annual low-income measure of about $22,650, while couples would receive about $24,000. A feature of the plan would be to take back 50 per cent of any earned income. People with a low income, and that includes disability payments, are the priority applicants for the pilot program.

The fact that the Ontario government is even going ahead with this experiment means a level of recognition of the failure of the poverty paradigm. It actually costs more money to maintain a segment of society below the low-income median, with all the various fields that are funded to ostensibly assist those living in poverty. Note that some occupations help people who are in poverty. It does not help them out of poverty. Helping agencies are chronically underfunding so that they are never fully effective enough in their mandate. Furthermore, professionals in the social service field are chronically overworked, bogged down by whatever policy limitations exist within the agencies that employ them and endless – some would say needless – paperwork.

A recent series of reports in the Toronto Star for example detail what happened in the process of finding an apartment for one man who had been living on the streets for a number of years. The main point was the agency tasked with this is understaffed and therefore cannot be as efficient and thorough in supporting clients to a better transition away from living on the streets or spending winter nights in bug and disease infested temporary shelters.

The client eventually moved back to the streets because the $950 per month basement apartment was substandard. That is a failure of service.

The range of reasons that find people ending up within the low-income sector is varied. One in particular being felt by a broad group is the changing nature of the job market. The increasing demand for skills that service the robotics and Internet revolution has caught many entering the labour force unprepared. Without hard skills, the low-wage service industry is then the job option most widely available.

The other trend toward limited-term, project-specific employment has given rise to a population of workers newly termed the precariat, in reference to the precariousness of job stability. Precariats participate in the gig economy – as in a gig here and a gig there. This is not a foundation for a stable life.

People who cannot find a decent income are less likely to live independently. Already in Toronto, 56.5 per cent of young people in Toronto still live with their parents. People still dependent on their parents in one way or another are not about to get married and start families. That may sound nice for those who believe in limiting population, but with an aging population and not enough caregivers available, the picture begins to look different. Furthermore, these demographics are growing.

Let’s hope therefore, this pilot project shows great results. When a similar experiment was done in the farming town of Dauphin, Manitoba from 1974-79, there were significant positive outcomes including an increase in school attendance, improved quality of family life, decrease in domestic violence and markers of improved health and wellness.

The time has come for a new income distribution paradigm. Universal basic income may be an answer if it is configured for optimal benefit. My main fear has to do with what typically results when the bureaucracy takes priority.

A note on the March for Science…

The problem is not with scientific discovery; it is with formulation and interpretation. Remembering the history of scientific experimentation using Black bodies, we must be very circumspect.

Pat Watson is the author of the e-book, In Through A Coloured Lens. Twitter @patprose.

Thank you, Michelle and Suzanne and Max: Let the Dance Begin — Petchary’s Blog

I very rarely write about spiritual matters. I have also not commented on the current U.S. election campaign, except to share some tweets. Yet, like many other women around the world, I have been deeply disturbed, spiritually and mentally, by the growing atmosphere – the scornful hatred and the focused disrespect against women (AND girls) […]

via Thank you, Michelle and Suzanne and Max: Let the Dance Begin — Petchary’s Blog

If We Take Life Too Seriously, Life Will Seriously Take Us – Book Excerpt

In the wake of the loss through depression of Robin Williams, here is an excerpt on mental health and mental ill-health from In Through A Coloured Lens
October 26, 2009
If We Take Life Too Seriously, Life Will Seriously Take Us

One of the unspoken truths of this world in its totality is that it is really one of organized, controlled lunacy. The evidence is everywhere, and while so many of us have had those moments, some individuals lose the façade entirely.
A case in point: A person travels from another land to this one – heart and mind filled with hope for a new and better life. But somewhere along the adventure, her hope dims and in response she finds a new way, nothing like the imagined one. In fact, her life is one of carting bundles, and it does not allow for daily hygiene. It finds her positioned between doors at the underground entrance to a downtown subway station where she humbly seeks your spare change. You might smell her presence before you even see her.
She couldn’t have imagined this as a young woman in the now faraway Caribbean homeland where her dream of traveling to a new country to find a new life was born.
Where does she go at night, one wonders?
You don’t see many Black women living on the streets of this city – a testament to the resiliency of the many, and our invisible, informal support system. But there are some. Being so few, they stand out. They live in our midst, yet still are on the outer edge. There was another who used to collect spare change at Bathurst and Bloor. Where is she now, one wonders?
Another woman of colour, though coaxed, refuses to tell her story. She keeps the details of her life to herself, holding on to her dignity, controlling what little privacy she still can. Yet, her life is very much a public statement, as daily she drags her large, battered piece of luggage around with her. Her hair is sprinkled with grey; some teeth have gone missing. But every day her hair is neatly combed, makeup beautifully presented, although that does not hide the frayed edges of her psyche.
Some days, if she allows you, there will be conversation. One day she gave away that she has a daughter. Where? She doesn’t say. But she will talk nonstop about the “iniquity workers on the Earth.” She will tell you that the devil will trick the unaware in many ways and she will talk, half in a trance, about the spirits of evil that are busy fooling us all with enticements of wealth and power. She will speak to you, but she is not friendly. And if you listen carefully, with empathy, you can hear her keen intelligence mixed in with the madness. You will get a sense of what plagued her mind until she tipped over the edge. You will understand that she is crazy, but not stupid.
If you ask about her swollen foot, bandaged but not seeming to heal, she will tell you frankly that she doesn’t care to discuss that at this time… or any time. She has lost her mind, not her pride. To have come so far to a new land and then to have taken this unforeseen road is heart-wrenching misfortune.
On another day, in another place, there is the other, older, woman of colour. She doesn’t seem to be as disconnected from reality as her younger counterpart. She is friendly, with an approachable demeanour, if you can manage to overlook the smell. For some who abandon themselves to uncontrolled insanity, this is an instinctive defence, keeping them safe – other people are less inclined to approach them because the stench ensures they have a wider personal space. Yet, with compassion, some individuals extend a hand.
One of the pointed differences between the relatively few man and women of colour who live daily on the streets of this city– at least from this observer’s perspective – is that the women’s unstable mental health is not tied to drug and alcohol addiction. Other pressures came to bear to take them to the private hell of mental illness and the public admission of their homelessness. What rejections, what disappointments, what patterns have been running throughout their lives? How is it that they have so lost their humour?
The singer Seal reminds us “we’re never going to survive unless we get a little crazy.” In other words, allowing the madness out a little at a time prevents a full-blown leap into the chasm. Our sisters on the street remind us that Adversity has its own plan. Yet if we take life too seriously, life will seriously take us.

Diabetes is a major health concern

Here is the lead-in for my September 26 column in Share newspaper:

The name Slinger Francisco might not be familiar to many, but there is hardly a person of Caribbean origin who doesn’t know Francisco by his stage name, the Mighty Sparrow. Clever and engaging lyrics and unique nuances of double entendre earned Sparrow the title of the undisputed Calypso King of the World with eight Carnival Road March titles in Trinidad and Tobago and 11 Calypso Monarch titles. You only have to hear the screams from women in the audience during a Sparrow performance to know the genius of his talent.

It wouldn’t be possible to travel into the world of calypso music without taking in some of the Mighty Sparrow’s gems – “Ten to One is Murder”, “Dan is the Man”, “Drunk and Disorderly”, “Melda (Obeah Wedding)”, “Mae, Mae”, and on and on.

In recent weeks, Sparrow, 78, has been listening to his own music along with other favourites from his hospital bed in a New York hospital. A long time diabetic, he had fallen into a diabetic coma two weeks ago. A great deal of prayer went toward his recovery. The good news from his family is that he is now out of the coma and responsive.

We hear an awful lot about the deadly diseases that claim lives daily worldwide. Cancer is one of note, but among the African population diabetes has a tremendous hold.

Here is the url for my column in the September 26 issue of Share newspaper.

http://sharenews.com/diabetes-epidemic-can-be-deterred/#sthash.cssbdq0R.dpuf

Share is Canada’s largest ethnic newspaper and is now in its 36th year of publication.

See more at: http://sharenews.com/diabetes-epidemic-can-be-deterred/#sthash.cssbdq0R.dpuf

Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of In Through A Coloured Lens, available for Kindle, tablet or PC at Amazon.com