The concept of a basic income – combining several existing income and social supports into a single, income-tested but otherwise unconditional cash benefit – has been debated for more than 200 years. It has drawn support, and criticism, from across the political spectrum, attacked or praised as either utopian socialism or minimal-state libertarianism. But has the whole debate just been settled?

Last spring more than 50 members of the Senate of Canada urged the federal government to implement a guaranteed basic livable income program. At the same time, a special committee of the Prince Edward Island legislature called on Ottawa to join the province in creating a GLBI.

Doubters suggested a GLBI would be too costly, and too complicated. They’d prefer tinkering with the status quo. The GLBI idea seemed stalled. Faced with this hurdle, a group of Island Senators has written Premier Dennis King and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to suggest a way to end the stalemate. Why not start with a small pilot project in Prince Edward Island?

On the Friday before the Thanksgiving long weekend, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau encouraged Canadians to support their local food bank in a photo op at a Metro grocery store in Ottawa.

But in Toronto, Valerie Tarasuk was outraged. Canada’s foremost expert on food insecurity couldn’t believe the government was giving money to food banks.

“It’s craziness,” she said. “People like me spend all this time figuring this stuff out and then you watch these policy decisions and you think, ‘Why are we wasting our time doing this research?’ Nobody’s using it.”

I read with much interest, appreciation and joy the recent two-part opinion piece presented in the media by Marie Burge, Laurie Michael and Michelle Pineau on behalf of the P.E.I. Working Group for a Livable Income on implementing a basic income guarantee on P.E.I.

It is wonderful that the legislative assembly of the province has accepted the great work of their all-party special committee on poverty in P.E.I., setting the scene for a way to eliminate poverty in our province.

During the first five months of the pandemic, the number of people who contacted a sex worker support group in St. John’s jumped by 100, according to the head of the St. John’s Status of Women Council.

Laura Winters said the spike in the number of people who found themselves scrambling for extra help was “staggering.”

“That’s (the program’s) rate of growth usually in a year, a year and a half,” she said in an interview Tuesday.