At a regular meeting last November, the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit Board of Health approved a motion to write a letter urging the federal and provincial government to prioritize a joint federal-provincial investigation into a basic income guarantee as a policy option for reducing poverty and income insecurity, and for providing opportunities for those in low income. This health unit joins a growing list of health advocates calling for a Basic Income Guarantee approach to poverty reduction.
In Leeds, Grenville and Lanark 12.6% of the population is living with low income, and 16.5% of children under 18 years of age are living with low income. Not having enough money for basic needs, like food and shelter, is related to many poor health outcomes, which leads to an increased use of the healthcare and justice systems, remedial education, social programs and lost productivity. Providing an adequate wage can reduce expenditures in these other programs. The nutritious food basket survey also highlights that current social assistance programs are insufficient to meet basic needs. A guaranteed income is a simpler, more transparent approach to social assistance, and extends protection to those who are currently not covered. It also promotes greater equality of opportunity and avoids the traditional scrutiny of social assistance recipients, including the associated stress, stigmatization, and employment disincentives.
We continue to advocate for health equity issues such as this one. For more information on health equity and the social determinants of health go: http://www.healthunit.org/healthequity.