Zoe Blunt, right, with fellow Coombs resident Kucutzi Ribe and service dog Patsy hold a demonstration on May 1. (Submitted photo)

Zoe Blunt, right, with fellow Coombs resident Kucutzi Ribe and service dog Patsy hold a demonstration on May 1. (Submitted photo)

Women call for guaranteed livable income in demonstration in Errington

Province-wide action led by the BC Women’s Alliance

A group of women raised a banner calling for guaranteed livable income at the opening of the Errington Farmers Market on Saturday, May 1.

Coombs farm worker Zoe Blunt, who helped hoist the three-metre long banner, said, ‘Mayday means emergency.’

The demonstration was part of a province-wide action led by the BC Women’s Alliance. Women raised banners on May 1 in Vancouver, Kelowna, Victoria, Nanaimo and elsewhere on the mainland, all demanding guaranteed livable income.

The message is about the economic pain hitting people with disabilities, laid-off workers and everyone who lacks decent housing.

The group indicated women suffering have to speak out now, while they have a chance to build back better with a real, province-wide safety net.

“We pay a huge social cost for a system that lets people fall through the cracks,” said Blunt. “Shelters, counselling programs, and social-housing developments are band-aids, and they’re over capacity already. Trying to rescue individuals in desperate situations is not an effective strategy; the proof is in the mounting body count. Hundreds of people were camping out in our region last winter. What will next winter look like?”

Blunt added, “What if, instead, we work on preventing our neighbours from falling into dire poverty in the first place? A guaranteed livable income is the best way to create immediate, long-lasting benefit for women, children, and all of us.”

“As the federal and provincial governments plan for economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we insist on women’s entitlement to better than a ‘return to normal’ since for many, the ‘old normal’ was based on economic and other inequalities of women, Indigenous people and people of colour,” said Jacqueline Gullion, an organizer with BC Women’s Alliance. “Women require monumental, urgent change, including here in B.C. We have a chance to build a just future for women and for all, starting with a guaranteed livable income.”

While the terms Guaranteed Livable Income, Universal Basic Income, and Guaranteed Annual Income are often used interchangeably, the BC Women’s Alliance is calling for a specific form of GLI to be given to everyone in Canada regardless of citizenship or status and without a means test or job search requirement. It would be given to individuals instead of families, which especially protects women from being trapped in abusive relationships and is set at a livable amount, meaning that it allows each person an adequate and dignified standard of living.

— NEWS Staff, submitted

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