Open Statement on Basic Income: A Case for Women
To: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Minister Maryam Monsef, Minister Carla Qualtrough
We believe now is the time for Canada to move to a method of income security that is both guaranteed and accessible to all who need it—basic income.
COVID-19 has intensified many harmful, systemic issues affecting women. Rates of domestic violence have risen across the country. Unpaid caring work has skyrocketed.
Among these systemic issues, income insecurity is one of the most severe—and this too is not new. In December 2019, 68% of women who were unemployed did not receive EI benefits. While CERB has helped many of these women who shoulder both employment and care-giving responsibilities, it is coming to an end far too soon. CERB continues to leave too many women out, including those who had far too little income before the pandemic hit.
A basic income, a regular payment made through the tax system to an individual, would not leave people out. It provides enough money so that everyone can meet their needs, participate meaningfully in society, and live with confidence and dignity, regardless of employment, disability, race, Indigenous identity, sex, gender identity, or parental or marital status.
Basic income helps fulfill Canada’s human rights commitments and is a key tool in a variety of needed reforms. It works in synergy with child care, housing, pharmacare, dental care, and other public services. It must be pursued along with living wages, pay equity, and closing the gender wage gap.
As we face the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertain economy, women, particularly racialized women, are overrepresented in high-risk essential positions, bear the brunt of jobs lost, and have seen more than 50% of their hours reduced. Women make up 92% of nursing jobs, 80% of medical lab technicians, 75% of respiratory therapists, 90% of personal support workers, 99% of child care providers, 75-80% of community and social service jobs, 84% of cashiers, 72% of food prep, and 71% of cleaners. Our lives and our economy depend on women. Their income security must be a priority.
We consider this statement the beginning of a constructive, informed discussion. We seek a basic income that supports the self-determination of Indigenous peoples, recognizes the diverse backgrounds and experiences of women, and works in solidarity with feminist, and other social justice movements. For such a policy to be successful, its design, implementation, and evaluation processes must be fully inclusive of people with lived experience of poverty, income insecurity and inequity—they are the experts.
We, the undersigned, urge the federal government:
To extend CERB benefits so that women with insufficient income who are currently ineligible will not face destitution, and to transition as quickly as possible from temporary benefits to a permanent basic income to ensure all adults in Canada are able to meet needs and be part of rebuilding a healthier society and economy.
For more information on women and basic income, visit
. For further information about basic income in general, see
. The Case for Basic Income for Women is part of the ‘Case for Basic Income Series’ developed and led by Ontario Basic Income Network, in partnership with Basic Income Canada Network and Coalition Canada.
Senator Frances Lankin
Senator Marilou McPhedran
Senator Kim Pate
The Hon. Dr. Jean Augustine
Maureen O’Neil, O.C.
Roberta Hamilton, Professor Emerita Queen’s University
Chloe Halpenny, Basic Income Canada Youth Network
Tracy Smith-Carrier King’s, University College at Western University
Mary Anne Martin, Basic Income Peterborough Network
Barbara Boraks, Ontario Basic Income Network
Deirdre Pike, Anglican Diocese of Niagara
Laura Cattari, Hamilton Round Table for Poverty Reduction
Sheila Regehr, Co-author, Basic Income: Some Policy Options for Canada
Josephine Grey, LIFT (Low Income Families Together)
Katherine Bullock, PhD, University of Toronto, Mississauga
Margaret Little, Queen’s University
Karen Monnon Dempsey, BICN Board Member, Halifax
Patricia Leson President, National Council of Women of Canada
Sister Pauline, Lally Sisters of Providence
Alexandra Kane, Black Lives Matter London, Ontario
Joëlle Favreau, Nourish
Susan Abells, Committee to End Homelessness Victoria
+ 3800 individuals and organizations across the country
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