Governing is about choices, and during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, the choices we now make can be life and death decisions, especially for individuals who were already inadequately served by our social safety net prior to the pandemic. I acknowledge that these are difficult and trying times for all. Each day, we see more and more businesses closing down, many thousands of people being left unemployed, families and individuals becoming increasingly financially compromised, and in worst cases, ending up homeless. In fact, we now have a rapidly increasing population of individuals and families experiencing homelessness for the first time. This is unacceptable.
It is the responsibility of the federal government to care for all persons in Canada and COVID-19 is demonstrating that this is far from our current reality. I get more concerned, as I receive calls from families in crisis, fighting to keep a roof over their heads, some of whom are now living in shelters. All people living in Canada deserve better and need to be able to continue to live in dignity, with basic human rights. This is especially imperative now with Health Canada indicating the need for social distancing, social isolation, and frequent hand washing as the main tools to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This is a health and safety issue and in order to follow Health Canada Guidelines, one must have access to a home and water.
Although the government has made emergency investments during COVID-19, with the number of individuals who are ending up unemployed and on the streets, it is clear that the government has failed to ensure nobody is left behind. This is especially true for individuals who have been historically marginalized by our social safety net including women, seniors, disabled persons, Indigenous people, BIPOC, students, 2SLGBTQQIA+, refugees, and temporary workers. If we are all in this together, then this government must commit to bold actions to ensure we can all survive the pandemic. As the CERB comes to an end in a couple of days, a significant number of Canadians wonder about their fate while this pandemic persists.
That is why on August 10th, 2020, I submitted a Private Members Motion for a Guaranteed Livable Basic Income, M-46, for consideration by the 43rd Parliament. The Motion calls on the Government to introduce legislation in partnership with provincial, territorial, and Indigenous peoples to convert the Canada Emergency Response Benefit into a permanent guaranteed livable basic income. Of most importance to this motion is that this guaranteed income program would be IN ADDITION to current and future government public services and income supports meant to meet special needs, including for example, investments in social housing, supports for disabled persons, seniors, students, refugees, and temporary foreign workers. Individuals across Canada are mobilizing in support of M-46, including 27,000 signatures indicating support in just a few days. The motion is attached for your review.
Governing is about choices and right now every choice we make needs to be focused on investing in people. At this critical juncture, lives are depending on it. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about M-46.
Leah Gazan, M.P.
NDP Critic for Children, Families, and Social Development
CC. The Hon Chrystia Freeland Minister of Finance