Poverty has long weighed on Hugh Segal’s mind. For decades, the former senator has been a vocal champion for a guaranteed basic income to lift the country’s poorest out of the cycle of poverty. He credits his formative years, growing up in an immigrant family in Montreal’s working-class Plateau neighbourhood, for sowing the seeds of his advocacy.

“What bothers me the most about [poverty] is the amount of people whose lives are being wasted because they’re caught in a scramble of too many jobs, too little pay, insufficient resources to cover rent, food, transport, clothes,” he said, in an interview. “Their kids pay a huge price, and it produces all kinds of difficulties.”

When you lock people down (to save their lives), you inevitably close down a lot of the economy as well. And the lockdown will definitely have to last in most countries until May or June — Donald Trump’s promise of a “beautiful timeline” to reopening the U.S. economy just two weeks hence being delusional.

So where’s the money coming from in the meantime?

The majority of people still have jobs they get paid for: people in essential services who have to go to work, people who can do their work from home, and quite a few others as well.

However, between a third and quarter of the employed population has been left idle as their employers, from airlines to retail businesses, downsize or shut temporarily. If you leave these people without income, then you are reproducing the conditions of the Great Depression of the 1930s when unemployment peaked at 24 per cent in the United States and the country’s GDP shrank by almost half.

Not all Victoria residents are in support of the city’s new plan to transform three local parks into temporary homeless shelters.

The city says it will be opening temporary outdoor shelters at the gravel soccer field at Beacon Hill Park, Topaz Park and Royal Athletic Park.

However, people whose homes back onto Topaz Park say the new plan is sparking concern amongst neighbors.

People are worried about their health, their loved ones, and their future. They’re worried about paying the bills next week.

Experts are telling governments to get money into people’s pockets immediately to blunt the economic hardship from the COVID-19 crisis.

What we need in these unprecedented times is a dose of economic solidarity that will ensure no one falls through the cracks.

And the most efficient and least bureaucratic way to do this is direct cash payments in the form of an emergency universal basic income.

Recently, the UBC Library, the AMS and the UBC Okanagan Students Union ran the bi-annual Food for Fines Campaign. The campaign invites students to reduce their UBC library fines by donating non-perishable food items: $3 in fines paid for each food item donated (to a $60 maximum). The donations go to the UBC AMS Food Bank on Campus and the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, which provide — up to six times a term — food relief for hungry UBC students.

At first glance, this food charity initiative looks like a triple win situation for students: we escape library debt; we support a noble cause and if food waste is reduced, we make good use of that tuna can about to expire. However, evidenced-based and internationally-recognized Canadian research shows that food banking as a response to food insecurity is ineffective, counterproductive and undermines human rights.

A tent city is growing in the 900-block of Pandora Avenue as measures to create social distance in response to COVID-19 means more of the city’s homeless people are being forced back onto the streets.

“There are way too many people right now in the 900-block of Pandora. It’s not safe in terms of social distancing,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps during a news conference on Monday.

The City of Victoria, along with Island Health, BC Housing, the Coalition to End Homelessness and the Dandelion Society, has started phase one of its plan to try to address the issue. People on the streets will now have three parks where they can set up a temporary shelter and have access to washrooms and medical advice.

Governments across the globe are scrambling to provide financial assistance for workers unable to earn money during the coronavirus pandemic. But it’s a difficult task determining how to get funds to those most in need — those who often fall off the employment radar thanks to the expanded gig economy…

Fortunately, Ron Hikel has the answer. Hikel was the executive director of the original Mincome project in Dauphin, Manitoba, from 1974 to 1978 and he’s been advocating for a universal basic income (BI) ever since. However, Hikel recommends against a hurriedly thrown together form of BI to meet the immediate financial needs of people thrown out of work because of COVID-19. Implementing a serious basic income program should wait until the COVID-19 crisis has passed.