“My life was pretty hectic. I was living on the streets, couch-surfing, [using] shelters.”

Robert Macgillivary, 26, has been using the Ally Centre of Cape Breton for years. He doesn’t remember how long.

Macgillivary thinks a lack of housing is contributing to the problem of homelessness in the region. He says a lot of students take up what rental properties there are available.

“We only have so much [housing] here. I call it depression island, really… Cape Breton Island.”

He visits local charity Loaves & Fishes for a meal but says if that meal is missed, it can be hard to find one elsewhere.

The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit CERB put cash in people’s hands, quickly, when COVID-19 hit. It was a smart and remarkable achievement. It looked like the beginnings of a basic income — but it wasn’t quite. It left out people who needed it. It got complicated with conditions, changes, interactions with other emergency benefits, and with provincial and territorial regimes. It confused applicants and recipients as their circumstances changed.

Now, CERB repayment demands are causing hardship, and while amnesty is needed that’s only a temporary reprieve, for some. The pandemic’s viral and economic toll is still rising. Long-standing inequalities and poverty are deepening and there’s no vaccine for that. If Canada hopes to withstand this crisis and “build back better” we need concrete government action on the path to a basic income. The human consequences of inaction are almost unthinkable.

The P.E.I. Working Group for a Livable Income is excited to congratulate the legislative assembly of P.E.I. for endorsing the final report of the special committee on poverty on P.E.I., which recommends a basic income guarantee for P.E.I.

The report provides a fully costed, workable and achievable model for a basic income guarantee that could eliminate poverty in P.E.I. It was a groundbreaking day for P.E.I. and Canada when this important report was adopted, and the time to act on the report is now!

We write today to urge the P.E.I. government to begin immediately to negotiate with the federal government for the launch of a permanent basic income guarantee in P.E.I., as recommended in the report.

Federal New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh is the first federal party leader to support calls for implementing a basic income guarantee pilot program in P.E.I.

In an interview with The Guardian on Monday, Singh said his party campaigned on implementing a national basic income pilot project and said he would support such a pilot on P.E.I.

Singh’s statements on the subject followed a report by all-party special standing committee on poverty, which called for implementing a full basic income guarantee (BIG) on P.E.I.

The Human Development Council’s Child Poverty Report Card released last week reveals child poverty rates for Indigenous communities in New Brunswick are worse than those in non-Indigenous communities – a lot worse.

The council included communities with 50 or more children and used 2018 figures. All these Indigenous communities had a rate of 50 per cent or higher. That’s more than double the provincial average of 21.8 per cent.

And for some communities it was far higher. Esgenoopetitj First Nation, in the eastern part of the province, had a rate of over 70 per cent.

Before the pandemic, half of Canadians were already struggling from paycheque to paycheque with little left over for savings, and household debt was at a record high. Few had enough set aside to pay the rent or put food on the table for even a short period of time. This situation wasn’t caused by COVID-19; it reflects changes that have been ongoing for decades. More than a third of the workforce was working in precarious employment — on contract, in temporary jobs, self-employed or working part-time when they would have preferred full-time work.

The economic shutdown that happened in March of this year revealed the inequality and economic insecurity people were already living with, and it has forced us to acknowledge the limitations of our existing social safety net. People displaced from their usual employment turned to employment insurance and learned that fewer than 40 per cent of them qualified for any support. Those who did qualify received payments too little even to pay the rent.

A volunteer group says they cannot stand by while people are left out in the cold without access to the most basic shelter in Halifax.

So Halifax Mutual Aid has started building small, watertight, insulated shelters for people who find themselves needing somewhere to go.

The shelters are simple. Each one has four walls, a roof, door, small window, single mattress and sleeping bag.