A small group of United Church of Canada volunteers gathered in Victoria April 8 as part of a nationwide candlelit vigil calling for a federal guaranteed livable income. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)

A small group of United Church of Canada volunteers gathered in Victoria April 8 as part of a nationwide candlelit vigil calling for a federal guaranteed livable income. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)

Victoria residents join nationwide candlelit vigil for basic income

Small group gathered outside MP Laurel Collins’s office April 8

People across Canada were encouraged Thursday to take part in a candlelit vigil in support of a federal guaranteed livable income program.

Organized by the United Church of Canada, the largest Protestant Christian denomination in the country, the event asked people to gather virtually or in small groups and light a candle in support of basic income.

(Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)

“When people have a livable income, they can turn the heat on, pay for medications, have decent food, pay the rent, leave an abusive relationship, and plan for the future,” said Lois Wilson, former senator and moderator of the United Church of Canada.

READ ALSO: Parliamentary budget officer says basic income program could halve poverty rate

This week, the federal Liberal and NDP parties are holding their national conventions, and United Church members are hoping a guaranteed livable income will be part of the discussion.

“We’ve got an affluent country where people live on the street and rely on food banks for food,” said Doug Koch, who attended the Victoria vigil. “We’ve just got to come up with a new model.”

(Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)

They’re hopeful the pandemic has highlighted the issue of income disparity enough to create a real national conversation.

“It (the pandemic) has shone a light on the inadequacies and unfairness of our income assistance programs in Canada,” Koch said.

Social programs are still important, he added, but people need something that gives them reliability.

Bill C-273, calling for the establishment of a national strategy on guaranteed basic income, is awaiting its second reading before the House of Commons.

READ ALSO: Targeted cash, social supports would be more effective than basic income: UBC panel


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