Basic income would support the arts sector



By Jana MacKenzie, Allied Arts Council, October 2, 2021.

During the long days of isolation and closure, we all have had the art of being entertained and staying connected. And although theaters, concert halls and galleries were the first to have their doors closed, artists from all disciplines have continued to produce and present their work virtually, and often for free. This disruption is not only felt at the individual and local level, but also at the federal level, where, as Statistics Canada has pointed out, the arts and culture sector has contributed $ 53.1 billion to Canada’s GDP. in 2017. The Canadian Performing Arts Association (CAPACOA) reported that in 2020, along with recreation, the arts and entertainment sector experienced the greatest job loss. However, it was workers in the performing arts sector that suffered the most from their income, with nearly 61% fewer hours worked. The deployment of the Canada Emergency Benefit (ECP) and the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRP) provided many working Canadians with the income support they needed to keep a roof over their heads and their lives. food on the table. Many of these workers saw, some for the first time, how powerful a constant and guaranteed income can be for their mental and physical well-being. Unfortunately, there were still many who were not eligible for government support because their income from the previous year was too low to qualify.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting social and economic upheavals have highlighted the shortcomings of our income support system and the unfair valuation of work throughout our society.
When you consider all the unpaid and undervalued work that sustains our economy, providing direct minimum income to individuals when they need it makes sense. We must put an end to the old adage of pulling oneself by the straps of the boot, because we know that without boots there is no lever. Economic stimulus policies tend to focus on investing in the private sector to stimulate job creation, but with or without corporate tax breaks or small business subsidies, the prevalence of low-wage precarious work remains a problem. reality. It is estimated that one in seven Canadians live in poverty and that in Alberta, 78 percent of low-income families are working poor. Our post-pandemic economic recovery plan cannot ignore how effective and necessary it is to invest directly in the lives and livelihoods of individuals and families.
Unlike current income support programs that discourage work and penalize individuals seeking training and higher education, a basic income policy would recognize that people have different needs when it comes to building resilience and to invest in their future.
A Basic Income would guarantee a minimum income for everyone and, because of its efficiency and simplicity, reduce bureaucracy and red tape. A basic income means preventing poverty and filling the gaps left by the labor market.
Along with adequate mental health, family and disability services, a basic income (whether universal, income-tested or negative income tax) is about treating people with dignity and fight directly against income inequalities. Such a plan would certainly support those in the creative arts and culture sector by providing them with the much-needed stability, especially in times of uncertainty.


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