May 3, 2016

Is it time for a Basic Income Guaranteed Pilot in Alberta

Members of the Disability Action Hall have fought really hard to make sure Albertans have enough money to live. 


We are also excited about the 'Enough For All' report going before Calgary City Council on May 4th. 'Enough for All' is about trying many different solutions to fix big problems like poverty. 

We also think one of the solutions we need to try as a province is basic income guaranteed (BIG).  To learn more about basic income, we encourage you to visit the Calgary Workers for Social Justice website policy pepper which can be found here

We think the Enough For All report is a positive step towards basic income as it means all levels of government and community work together. 

We are sending in a letter of support for the report and have also sent an email to the Alberta government. 


Is it time for a Basic Income Guaranteed Pilot in Alberta?

To read out letter, read the text below. 



May 4th, 2016

Dear Members of City Council,

RE: Letter of Support for the Enough for All Strategy CPS2016-0266

Members of the Disability Action Hall are very pleased to share their support of The Enough 4 All Report. We are very proud of the City of Calgary’s continued efforts to step forward as a leader in this community owned plan.

The Disability Action Hall is a coalition member of many groups working with the “Enough 4 All”. We are excited about the exploration of the use of a sliding scale for Fair Entry and its approach to harm reduction to ensure the City’s services are affordable to all. While we are not here today to specifically talk about the sliding scale, we would like to publicly recognize the City of Calgary for being a national leader in ensuring Calgarians can access the services they need.

No one level of government can end poverty by itself. A coordinated response is needed. The Enough for All strategy is a step in the right direction. Responding to a complex problem like poverty requires a very complex response from all different levels of Government. Changes to the City of Calgary policy will be a critical process in working towards an end to poverty. We applaud the Enough 4 All Strategy working towards the outcome “By 2023, 95% of all Calgarians are living above the poverty line.”

Members of the Disability Action Hall continue to advocate to our province about the need to have social assistance programs indexed to the cost of living. One of the ways to achieve the 2023 goal is to encourage Alberta to take on a social assistance pilot project commonly referred to as the basic or guaranteed annual income.

We have attached our January provincial budget feedback letter to finance Minister Joe Ceci also asking for social assistance reform. Our finance minister Honourable Joe Ceci stated in his recent in the 2016 Budget address “In the past when oil prices fell, the cost of that inaction was downloaded onto hard-working families through short-sighted cuts. Albertans paid in longer hospital wait times, overcrowded classrooms, longer commutes, higher fees, and lost opportunity. Some say we should repeat those mistakes. We say no. Our government won’t turn the clock back on Albertans.” While we are thankful there have been no cuts to social services, as a province we are beginning to see a coordinated intergovernmental approach. After all, “We are in this together.”

When community and all governments work together, Albertans will do better. We applaud Mayor Nenshi who has publicly said at the recent Mayor’s Summit “I think we are in a policy environment right now, perhaps brought on by the economic downturn, where people are willing to experiment a little bit more.” Alberta is ready to try basic guaranteed income. A pilot project will help enable all levels of government to understand how to coordinate poverty reduction efforts in a holistic manner based on the principles of adequacy, universality and individuality. We are ready for Calgary to take on this challenge and can only hope our Provincial Government will also take this lead.

Thank you again for your continued support for the Enough 4 All strategy. We are certain the City of Calgary will continue to be a leader in the national dialogue around a basic income for all.

 Sincerely

Colleen Huston
On behalf of the Members of the Disability Action Hall

Cc:
Honorable MLA Joe Ceci, Minister of Finance
Honorable MLA Kathleen Ganley, Minister of Justice
Honorable Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Seniors and Housing
Honorable MLA Irfan Sabir, Minister of Human Services
Honorable MLA Brian Mason, Minister of Infrastructure & Transportation
Honorable Danielle Larivee, Minister of Municipal Affairs
Ms. Robyn Luff, MLA for Calgary East



Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Dear Honorable MLA Joe Ceci and Members of the Alberta Treasury,

RE: Upcoming 2016 Spring Budget Priorities

Members of the Disability Action Hall wish to commend the first steps to help balance the budget by the freezing of MLA and administration wages for the 2016 calendar year in order to properly fund social services during these challenging times.  We are encouraged the child tax benefit has been expanded for more families in need by your recent announcement, Thursday, January 21st that social services will not be cut. We know that during this time many people are losing their jobs, some of us who are presently employed are very thankful we still have our jobs.

Remember your roots
As a province when we strive to be fiscally responsible, fair and equitable the challenge before treasury is a daunting one. We ask of you, as Minister of Treasury to remember your roots. Don’t be afraid to spend money to help people who are struggling and don’t listen to people who say you shouldn’t be doing it. Investments in the future of our province and its people will help reduced costs in the long run, revenues will go up as people's health improves, have greater access to activities and more money to spend.

Investing in Affordable Public Transportation
We also remind the treasury to help us become more mobile and avoid the impact of isolation in our province by investing in the operation costs of public transportation across Alberta. Helping all of us move around in our province increases everyone’s quality of life.

Investing in the minds of Albertans
We also know in order to increase Albertan’s quality of life we need to be mindful of tuition fees, and they, too, need to be frozen as a symbolic gesture of investing in the minds of our future leaders.

Structure of Social Assistance Programs and Health Benefits
We are very concerned about the structure of social assistance and wonder if it is not enough for Albertans to live a good life in Alberta?  One of us went to the dentist and was refused treatment to fix a cracked tooth and was only given antibiotics. The antibiotics may fix the current infection, but it will keep happening until the cracked tooth is fixed, which is never given the current rules. We would like to see an increase in preventative care such as improving dental care and improving our ability to get help from the doctor before we become sicker.

We also understand some Albertans may be falling through the cracks or are waiting too long to qualify for social assistance. We encourage you to not give into the pressure of cutting services to people, whether we are new to the province or are born and raised here.

Affordable Housing
It has been four years since AISH has been raised and we would like to know the funding priorities for Human Services and if at all possible, hear directly from Minister Irfan Sabir the direction we plan to go as a province. We cannot afford rental homes that are built to current code because the assistance rates are too far low below market. We also believe we need an intergovernmental approach to housing.

We are in a housing crisis and many people are in dire need of affordable, accessible housing.

If we can help our Cities, Province and Country work together to solve this problem, we would love to be of help.

We would appreciate hearing back from you if these are priorities are in alignment with the Alberta budget.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Members of the Disability Action Hall

Right Honourable Premiere Rachel Notley
Honourable MLA Mr. Brian Mason, Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation
Honourable MLA Mr. Irfan Sabir, Minister of Human Services
Honourable MLA Ms. Sarah Hoffman, Minister of Seniors, Housing and Health
MLA Ms. Robyn Luff, Calgary East
Office of the Mayor of Calgary, Mr. Naheed Nenshi





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