The leader of one of Lindsay’s key employment agencies, Carol Timlin of Victoria County Career Services (VCCS), says the basic income pilot is a fantastic opportunity for Lindsay.
Executive Director Carol Timlin says part of their role at VCCS is to show people how to leverage the skills they have, and to steer them toward picking up new skills. She says that should become easier with a basic income as a financial floor to draw upon when necessary.
“It’s a great opportunity and I’m pleased the pilot is here,” Timlin tells The Lindsay Advocate.
“If you have your basic needs taken care of, it makes sense that one can then focus on their higher needs,” she says.
A basic income ensures everyone an income sufficient to meet basic needs and live with dignity, regardless of work status. Lindsay, Thunder Bay, and Hamilton area are testing a basic income pilot for three years in an Ontario government pilot project. About 2,000 people in town are expected to participate, or about 10 per cent of Lindsay’s population.
Timlin says she believes that people who begin receiving a basic income may benefit from VCCS’ financial literacy skills training. For instance, a single person on Ontario Works with no children receives about $720 a month. With basic income, that will increase to about $1,400 per month. That much of an increase could prove to be overwhelming for someone at first.
Timlin also wonders if people who receive a basic income will return to school to complete their education, or feel empowered enough to attend for the first time.
“Or, they may be looking for skills’ upgrades, too,” says the executive director, something VCCS may be able to help with.
One of Lindsay’s significant employers, General Manager Frank Geerlinks of Home Hardware and its family of three stores in Lindsay, says he’s “all for” the basic income pilot in Lindsay.
“There is a lot of hurt in our community, a lot of people in negative circumstances. This might help with that,” says Geerlinks.
Geerlinks says that “youth are under attack” in Lindsay in terms of the growing drug challenge in the town.
“We have a social responsibility to help and I don’t know what the solution is. But we need to figure out a way to help people value themselves,” says the Home Hardware dealer.
One of the aspects of basic income policy that supporters trumpet is that it will ease anxieties caused so often by lack of income. The burgeoning mental health crisis, for instance, could in part be caused from financial anxiety, one of the areas of study that will occur during the basic income pilot.
Geerlinks says it’s important to “provide opportunities for youth beforehand,” so that they have a strong launch.
He’s hoping Lindsay’s basic income pilot will show some promise to help young people get a better start.