Editorial: Time for guaranteed basic income

It is past time for the government to give serious consideration to instituting a living wage.

It is past time for the government to give serious consideration to instituting a living wage.

The so-called free market economic system certainly hasn’t gotten us there, with its nonsense about trickle down wealth and such. In a country like Canada, which we like to think of as one of the most advanced and caring in the world, it is simply not good enough that we still have so many people, including thousands and thousands of children, living in poverty.

The refrain on the other side of the argument is inevitably that those people are just lazy. That silly notion might comfort the well-to-do when they wake up in the dark of the night secure in their life of privilege, but it certainly isn’t true.

Social Planning Cowichan makes that very clear in their 2017 report detailing what various different families would have to earn to make ends meet in the Cowichan Valley. Hint: the minimum wage isn’t even close to adequate.

The living wage for a family of four, that’s two parents and two children, with both parents working full time, is $19.05 per hour. That’s increased 24 cents in just one year. Social Planning Cowichan tells us that the living wage has increased by 12 per cent since 2014, while B.C.’s minimum wage, already inadequate then, has increased by only six per cent. In fact, the living wage is 76 per cent higher than the minimum wage. That is just unacceptable.

What it means in practice is that a lot of children are hungry, a lot of people don’t have a decent place to live, and even working their fingers to the bone they can’t make the numbers work.

And consider those like seniors on a fixed income. There are only so many places to cut back as the cost of living continues to rise completely out of the range of what people’s salaries and incomes are rising.

People shouldn’t have to decide between buying a winter coat and having supper for the next month. It’s barbaric.

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