Canada is a wealthy country, yet 1 in 7 people here live in poverty.

Worse still, there is no national plan to fix this, despite many asks for one. Instead, the government ends up paying billions of dollars each year to “manage” poverty.

Maybe the reason poverty hasn’t been addressed is because no one can agree on whose problem it is.

The Ministry of Community and Social Services says it will announce details “soon” about which communities will be selected for participation, and how the pilots will be structured. It is taking into account public feedback based on a detailed discussion paper prepared by political strategist and former senator Hugh Segal.

During his nine years as a Conservative senator, Segal was a passionate advocate for a basic income. He found little political will to do more than tinker with existing benefits.

“Over the last quarter century,” he says, “there is probably no area of public policy, in either urban or rural Canada, where creativity and courage from governments have been less evident than on the issue of poverty faced by working age adults.”

Something about the Guaranteed Basic Income program being readied for an Ontario test run — names vary but it means automatic minimum support for the needy and eventually everyone — irritates me.

What’s the alternative? Not necessarily unions, but agency in some form. Take control of your destiny — both because it’s more fun than the alternative and because you can’t trust anyone else to. Organize somehow — unions, political parties, whatever — to get a seat at the same table as those guys with the investments and returns have done forever. Charity is always a way to confirm who’s on top and who’s stuck below — and a guaranteed BI is essentially charity.

As part of the monthly Fair Wages Now province-wide day of action, PMUS and allies toured downtown Kitchener, distributing literature on the streets and making stops at a few of the temp agencies.

The temp agency industry made $11.5 billion in revenues across Canada in 2012. The majority of those revenues were made in Ontario (50% of the industry). Ontario’s temp agency industry had revenues of $5.7 billion in 2012. The Canadian temp industry made just under $1 billion in profits in 2012 by exploiting the precarious income security of workers.

Temp workers get paid 40% lower than permanent workers doing the same job, often at minimum wage jobs. A recent Labour Ministry labour enforcement blitz showed that 3 out of 4 temp agencies were violating basic employment standards. Ontario workers need decent wages, working conditions and a decent minimum wage! With this is in mind, we took our demands directly to the offices.

Should the Left and labour support a demand for a Basic Income (BI)? This simple question has provoked a fervent and confusing debate.

The discussion over BI touches on real political and economic anxieties. The attack on the social welfare state, the depreciating power of organized labour and an economy producing increasingly low-wage precarious jobs have led many to search for alternative mechanisms and policies to address these problems. It is no wonder that BI with its promise of streamlined access to minimal economic security has attracted many adherents on the Left.

Discussing BI with clarity is made difficult because of the sweeping scope and abstractness of the issue. Debates over BI necessarily involve an analysis of capitalism, the state, the nature of automation and theories of social change.

Poverty and economic insecurity among BC seniors is growing, according to a study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. After rapid declines over the 1970s, 80s and 90s, seniors’ poverty rose from a low of 2.2% in 1996 to 12.7% in 2014 (the most recent year data is available)—and many more seniors have incomes just above the poverty line.

The rise is mainly driven by the 28% of seniors who live alone. Single women face a particularly high risk of economic insecurity in old age. A staggering one-third of single senior women live below the poverty line.

 Premier Wade MacLauchlan says his government continues to try to pursue a guaranteed annual income pilot for P.E.I., despite the fact federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau publicly threw cold water on the idea one week ago.

During a digital town hall event with Huffington Post Business on March 30, Morneau responded to a question about government’s plans for a basic income as “not something we are looking at.”

But on Thursday, MacLauchlan said the province remains committed to pressing the federal government for assistance on a pilot for P.E.I.

“We continue to work on that and we continue to hope for it,” MacLauchlan said during question period.