On June 22 Waterloo Regional Council passed a resolution endorsing basic income!

Specifically, Regional Council voted in favour of a resolution stating:

“that the Regional Municipality of Waterloo support the Provincial and Federal governments through their respective responsible Ministers, to research, develop, implement and evaluate a Basic Income Guarantee for all citizens…”

Additionally, the resolution includes a call for municipalities and service managers to be included in consultations on design and evaluation of Ontario’s basic income pilot.

The endorsement happened quickly and quietly as the resolution to support basic income was buried in a committee report. One would have to know that the resolution was among the cluster of Community Services Committee recommendations being passed, as basic income was not mentioned at the council meeting. Nonetheless, we are very happy that our local government has embraced the idea of basic income and is encouraging other levels of government to explore basic income. Special shout-outs go to councillors Elizabeth Clarke and Jane Mitchell who first brought the topic to council in February.

At BIWR we have done a lot of digging to try to determine whether the Regional Municipality of Waterloo is the largest municipality in Canada to endorse basic income. We are pretty sure we are the largest in the province. We know that some big-city mayors (Calgary, Halifax and Edmonton) have voiced support for basic income, but it is difficult to know which municipalities have passed resolutions or motions endorsing basic income. Waterloo Region is now an example of this, as without media attention the resolution that passed can easily go unnoticed.

Here is the full text of the council resolution:

Resolution – Basic Income Guarantee

Whereas 60,570 residents of Waterloo Region (12.7 per cent of the population) live on low incomes according to the 2013 Canadian Tax Filer data after tax low income measure; and

Whereas Waterloo Region is the 6th most food insecure out of all 36 Ontario health unit’s districts according to a 2015 report by Cancer Care Ontario; and Whereas the root case of food insecurity in Canada is low income; and

Whereas income security and inequality continue to increase in Ontario and Canada as a result of low wage, precarious employment opportunities, such as part-time, temporary or contract work; and

Whereas existing income security programs have not proved sufficient to ensure adequate, secure income for all; and

Whereas insufficient income, income insecurity and inequality have well-established, strong relationships to a range of adverse health outcomes, and are root causes of many social ills such as illiteracy and short-fall of educational attainment, chronic stress, alienation, and criminal activity, all of which undermine the social fabric; and

Whereas a basic income guarantee would reduce income insufficiency, insecurity, and inequality and ensure everyone an income sufficient to meet basic needs and live in dignity regardless of work status; and

Whereas a basic income guarantee resembles income guarantees currently provided in Canada for seniors, which have contributed to health and quality of life improvement in this age group; and

Whereas there is growing support from various levels of government across Canada and numerous associations across Ontario;

Therefore Be It Resolved

That the Regional Municipality of Waterloo support the Provincial and Federal governments through their respective responsible Ministers, to research, develop, implement and evaluate a Basic Income Guarantee for all citizens, as described in Report CSD-EIS-16-10, dated June 14, 2016; and

That a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Ministers of Health and Long-Term Care and Community and Social Services for Ontario, the Federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, the local MPPs and MPs to indicate the Region’s support for a Basic Income Guarantee pilot project in Ontario; and

That a copy of this resolution be sent to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association (OMSSA) to urge them to advocate to the Province to be included in consultations to inform the development and evaluation of the pilot project to be implemented in Ontario.