We have all encountered the dark outlines of the crisis facing us by now. Everywhere there are warnings of mass unemployment unseen in decades, already vulnerable workers—young, racialized, women—hit hardest, entire industries at risk, a looming wave of evictions and foreclosures.

None of this is inevitable. That is the message we should be encountering more often.

Instead, we still too frequently hear warnings about deficits and debt, about excessive generosity today and bills coming due tomorrow.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, minimum wage and poverty reduction recently became important issues in the Liberal leadership contest.

Premier-designate Andrew Furey ran on tying minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index so it would automatically go up when the cost of living goes up.

He also announced during the campaign that he would renew the focus on reducing poverty across the province. He said that he will address the complex roots of poverty and that he will undertake robust consultations to take a multifaceted look at the problem.

These are good things. However, it must be acknowledged that the minimum wage in Newfoundland and Labrador is not a living wage. This means it is not enough money for someone who works 40 hours a week to pay for basic expenses such as rent, utilities and groceries.

From July 2019 to August 2020, Tamarack Institute’s Vibrant Communities – Cities Reducing Poverty co-hosted a series of webinars with the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction exploring Basic Income (BI) in Canada. As one of three sites for Ontario’s 2018-2019 BI pilots, the Roundtable undertook in-depth research and consultations on BI, supported participants to join the pilot, learned along with them, and are now sharing their knowledge with the network through this webinar series.

This blog summarizes some of our key learning about Basic Income so far.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused severe ripple effects for the health and safety of Canadians. Not only are Canadians concerned about contracting COVID-19, but they are facing other significant challenges such as job losses, financial struggles and food insecurity. As the pandemic continues on, these struggles and their impacts are becoming increasingly evident.

Dalhousie University has conducted a survey and the preliminary results indicate that food security among Canadians is becoming a big concern. The survey suggests that 55% of Canadians surveyed are concerned about food security — much more than before the COVID-19 pandemic began. More information about the University’s survey results is slated to be released soon.

There are more people sleeping on the street now then there have been in years.

That’s according to Eric Jonsson, a social worker and program coordinator for the Navigator Street Outreach Program, which provides support to motivated street-involved and homeless people.

“It’s the largest number of people sleeping outside in Halifax in the last few years that I’ve been working here,” says Jonsson.

He says some of the people who used to live in hotels are now on the street after a program that provided the temporary housing ran out of funding late last month.

The curve is flattening. Businesses are starting up again. The sun is out. People are starting to imagine a post-COVID world. And, in this new world, will we take the lessons of the past several months to implement progressive policies to confront the societal wrongs exposed by the pandemic?

Food insecurity was a crisis before COVID-19 hit and rapidly became even worse since the lockdown. Between mid-March and the end of April, food bank use rates tripled. A line graph would reveal that visits to food banks follow an overall upward trajectory with visits during certain points as much as six times higher compared to the same period last year.

A disproportionate number of Indigenous respondents are struggling financially and say they lack trust in the federal government’s plans to reopen the economy during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a new report released by Statistics Canada, over one-third (36%) of Indigenous respondents said the pandemic had a “strong or moderate” impact on their ability to pay for essentials, including rent, mortgage payments, utilities and groceries.

By contrast, only 25% of non-Indigenous respondents said the same.