PEI

'I'm living off my children': Basic income could break cycle of poverty

A public meeting in Charlottetown Wednesday to discuss a basic guaranteed income for Prince Edward Islanders heard that such a plan could help break the cycle of poverty for Island families.

MLAs voted unanimously in support of a basic income in December

Gina Younker is concerned she will pass her own financial difficulties on to her children. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

A public meeting in Charlottetown Wednesday to discuss a basic guaranteed income for Prince Edward Islanders heard that such a plan could help break the cycle of poverty for Island families.

Gina Younker was one of about 75 people at Murphy's Community Centre for the meeting. It was the last of four meetings hosted by the P.E.I. Working Group for a Liveable Income.

I could end up passing this on to my kids, who'll pass it on to their kids.- Gina Younker

Younker is on social assistance, and said she isn't able to afford all of her necessary medical treatment, so she has had to rely on help from her children.

"I vowed years ago that I wasn't going to live off my children. I wasn't going to be like my mother, God rest her soul," she said.

"But in a lot of ways I'm living off my children and their income, and that's just not fair. Unless we get more income coming in for people this generational stuff is never going to move. It's going to be passed on. I could end up passing this on to my kids, who'll pass it on to their kids."

Ottawa offers no funding

The meetings were designed to continue the discussion of a basic income guarantee on the Island. The plan would see the government guarantee all Islanders a minimum income, without them having to qualify for particular programs.

In December, MLAs voted unanimously to have the province work with the federal government in hopes of setting up a pilot project. But the federal government has offered only to provide data to support the project, and no money.

Tracy Gillis says having to account for every penny leads to stress and anxiety. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

Tracy Gillis said a guaranteed income, and not having to deal with the bureaucracy of various assistance programs, would make her life easier.

"Everybody wouldn't have to know where every penny went. I wouldn't have to explain every penny," said Gillis.

"I would just be able to go pay my bills. I would be able to buy the things I need, instead of borrowing money for toothpaste, or saying, 'Hey can I have five bucks to go buy toothpaste?' I might even be able to enjoy life a little. I wouldn't be so anxious and stressed."

The P.E.I. Working Group for a Liveable Income hopes the feedback from the public forums can help the provincial government to work out a deal with the federal government.

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