Basic Income at Christmas was making life a bit more worth living
OBIP Chronicles — As we approach the holidays, many people who are receiving basic income are, for the first time in a long time, able to buy gifts for loved ones or can afford to do activities with their kids.
Giving is not only good for the soul, as the saying goes, but also one’s physical and emotional health. The evidence is unassailable.
- In his book Why Good Things Happen to Good People, Stephen Post, a professor of preventative medicine at Stony Brook University in the U.S., reports that giving to others can enhance health benefits in people who are coping with a chronic illness.
- In a 2006 study by Rachel Piferi of Johns Hopkins University and Kathleen Lawler of the University of Tennessee, giving was shown to even improve physical health and longevity because it decreases stress. People who provided social support to others had lower blood pressure than those in the study who didn’t, suggesting a direct physiological benefit to the power of giving.
- Generosity is likely to be rewarded by others eventually, sometimes by the person you chose to give to, and sometimes by someone else. Several studies, including work by sociologists Brent Simpson and Robb Willer, have suggested that these exchanges promote a sense of trust and cooperation that strengthens our ties to others. In turn, these strengthened ties have been shown in research to spark positive social interactions, so imperative to good mental and physical health.
Kate, a young, single mother in Lindsay who was working part-time and collecting basic income as a top-up was able to take her son to special events that were happening in the community.
“This year for Christmas my son will have gifts under the tree that I bought myself instead of having to go to toy drives or ask for money from friends or family,” she says in the survey.
“A weight was lifted off my shoulders knowing I was able to pay my bills (and my) rent on time, and be able to spoil my son without having to worry about having money set aside for the following weeks until my next paycheque or childcare benefit came in.”
Samantha is a young, single woman who was on the Ontario Disability Support Network (ODSP) before she was able to collect basic income instead. Since ODSP did not meet her needs she was able to finally eat three healthy meals per day on basic income. She also bought badly-needed glasses and purchased her needed medication without worry.
Samantha doesn’t have custody of her son, who lives with his grandparents. But basic income has helped her “buy school pictures, a Halloween costume, transportation to and from his house and my house.”
And now “I am also able to buy him some Christmas presents as well as take him to fairs and events and do extracurricular activities.”
Samantha says before basic income she would pick her son up and just spend time together at home.
“I am actually able to bring him out bowling which is his favorite activity to do when we are together.”
Now, with the pilot cancelled by the provincial PC government, Samantha’s anxiety has “put me in the hospital.”
“I was wanting to go back to school as a mature student and go to post secondary school,” she says in the survey.
Doug, was also on ODSP prior to basic income, was able to buy his mother Christmas gifts, a birthday gift, and took her out to dinner, “something I could never afford on ODSP.”
He found that once he was on basic income and had more financial stability he stopped having breakdowns and “stopped thinking of ending my life.”
“It took stress off my family.”
More than 1,500 of the 4,000 basic income pilot recipients agreed to help the Basic Income Canada Network and the Ontario Basic Income Network continue working for a basic income. BICN conducted a survey of those people. Well over 400 responses have already come back, more than 10 per cent of those receiving basic income in Ontario, allowing us to write this special series. The Lindsay Advocate, working in cooperation with BICN, is pleased to be the media partner highlighting these stories. Names have been changed to protect identities.
The Ontario Basic Income Pilot was initiated by the Province in 2017 in three areas – Hamilton region, Thunder Bay area, and Lindsay. Four thousand people were involved, with 2,000 of them in Lindsay to see if there would be a community-wide effect, given the smaller population (20,000 people) of the Kawartha Lakes centre. It was set to run for three years. When the PC government was elected in the summer of 2018, it cancelled the program despite a campaign promise to allow it to continue, announcing that payments will only run until March of 2019.