From Greens to Conservatives, it seems everyone has a version of guaranteed basic income (BI) that they can support. There is confusion, however, over the objectives of BI, and very different views on what is feasible.

The debate on BI has advanced with the recent publication of a study commissioned by the British Columbia government, and by tworeports from the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO).

The B.C. report rejects BI on the grounds that it would be cheaper to achieve poverty reduction in the province through targeted measures. The PBO report suggests that the national poverty rate can be halved at no net cost, assuming the elimination of some tax credits and social assistance programs. Who is right?

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.

Remote Indigenous communities face a problem as the changing climate makes it more difficult to access traditional sources of food.

That issue, which is detailed in a new report by advocacy group Human Rights Watch, is exacerbated by the fact that many communities have a lack of alternatives that are both affordable and nutritious.

“It’s difficult for our people to access healthy foods,” Vern Cheechoo said Wednesday at a press conference that coincided with the report’s release.

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.

A new national study of nutrition among First Nations has found rates of obesity and diabetes that are significantly higher than the general Canadian population.

The study, a decade-long examination of diet, nutrition and whether traditional food and water sources are safe, also finds that almost half of all Indigenous families have difficulty putting enough food on the table.

The final report of the First Nations Food, Nutrition and Environment study concludes that Indigenous communities struggle with food insecurity, a perpetual problem that has a dramatic impact on health.

Conversely, the study also finds that when traditional food is present, nutrient needs and diet quality improve.

A United Nations report is highlighting the role “abhorrent” housing conditions play in the poverty and exploitation that Indigenous people face in Canada and around the world.

“(Indigenous people) are more likely to suffer inadequate housing and negative health outcomes as a result, they have disproportionately high rates of homelessness and they are extremely vulnerable to forced evictions, land-grabbing and the effects of climate change.”

Leilani Farha, the UN special rapporteur on adequate housing, noted that housing shortages are severe enough in Canada’s North that some people in Indigenous communities are forced to sleep in shifts.

“There’s 15 people living in a home that’s the size of a trailer, so of course they have to sleep in shifts when there’s only so much room,” she said.

The report also highlights poor water systems on many Canadian reserves.

“In a country with more fresh water than anywhere else in the world, 75 per cent of the reserves in Canada have contaminated water, with communities such as Attawapiskat declaring a state of emergency,” it reads.

Since 1876, when the Indian Act first forced First Nations people to live on reserves, the federal government has been responsible for providing First Nations housing. And it has done a bad job.

That’s why First Nations leaders say the next federal government, elected on Monday, must relinquish its bureaucratic grip to help fix the ongoing crisis in First Nations housing.

Nationally, half of First Nations people living on reserve — and one-quarter of First Nations in the country overall — need serious housing repairs. Another third live in overcrowded on-reserve housing, while nationally 20 per cent live in overcrowded homes on and off reserves.