Who Benefits from Basic Annual Income?

Flow Office Wisdom is very proud to be a Living Wage Champion, which means that all of our employees and contractors get paid a wage which meets or exceeds the Living Wage in Guelph, ON, as set out by the Guelph and Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination, of $16.50/hr.

The Government of Ontario is making changes to the legislated minimum wage, and investing in three Basic Annual Income pilot projects.

This post is the first in a series about LIving Wage, Minimum Wage, Basic Annual Income, and Poverty.

By Candice Lepage

Living wage is great and I’m proud to work for a company that offers it to us. But it doesn’t fix all the causes of poverty; it addresses a very specific sector of poverty - the working poor.

Living Wage

But even then - it’s based on a 40 hour work week in a double income home. Single parents, people with disabilities, and even people who want to give to the world more intentionally than by providing a service in exchange for pay are never going to be supported by a living wage.

I’ve been making a living wage for 16 months. I have only very recently begun to move out of poverty. The reason for that is that I could not work 40 hours a week.

I spent much of last year struggling through grief as I dealt with many loved ones passing away. Some weeks putting in 40, was a great distraction, but most often, I didn’t have the energy to put in a full work week.

And so, as I put in 20 hour work weeks, I thought about the parents who either by chance or by need can’t begin to work until their kids are at school or daycare, and then must be home by 3:30 to make sure those kids aren’t home alone. A 5 or 6 hour work day, 5 days a week is the maximum they can work. An increased minimum wage or a living wage will never fully give people who only work 20 hours a week financial security.

I also think about those who give to society in different ways. The people who are artists - painters, musicians, writers. These people need to have human experiences, and the time to reflect on them. They need time to hone their skills to create the art which adds to the tapestry of our lives. Who pays them to practice, to reflect, to feel? What is their wage to live?

A month back Terry O’Reilly came to Guelph to talk about his new book. He has spent years in the advertising industry. At one point he explained that his job never looks like work, though it is. He gets paid to put his feet up on a desk for 8 hours a day and think. Why does the art of an advertiser get properly compensated, but the art of a musician or a playwright, not?

And lastly, what about those who give their own time and care. Those who take on the role of supporting others whether through volunteering, being the lead parent, or being the caregiver for an infirmed or disabled child, parent, spouse or other relative or friend.

These are the people who will be helped by a basic annual income. Not only the person receiving the income, but equally the beneficiary of the gifts they give to their children, loved ones and all of us in the case of artists.

We all understand that students, seniors, people with lifetime disabilities, whether physical or neurological, are people who cannot work and so will and should be supported by a Basic Annual Income, but let’s remember that we will ALL in fact benefit by giving people choice in how they give their gifts to society.