Over 80 per cent didn’t get needed health care due to cost, until basic income

By Roderick Benns

Annie is 18-29, a student who works part time and seasonally. She was able to afford health-related items like eyeglasses.

OBIP Chronicles — The Ontario Basic Income Pilot baseline survey shows that nearly 38 per cent of the people collecting basic income needed health care but didn’t get it in the last 12 months. That’s because more than 80 per cent reported cost as the reason.

In the survey conducted by Basic Income Canada Network, there were many stories that reflected this reality.

Annie is 18-29, a single student who works part time and seasonally. With her basic income she was able to afford better food, housing, and transportation, but also necessary health-related items, like eyeglasses. She also chose to get dental work done that had previously been put off.

“It helped improve my life,” she said in the survey, while “cancelling it has (caused) negative experiences, stress.”

Annie says it is unfair for people to say the way out of poverty is to get a job.

“I work and go to school to get a career in a field I love but coming from poverty it has been an uphill battle. Programs like this help.”

Murray is in his 50s, and is married or has a partner. He went to college. The basic income pilot topped him up by $901 to $1,200 dollars a month. The program had a markedly important impact on his health.

It “allowed me to pay for my drug prescriptions required for my heart condition and my hip replacement pain,” he says in the survey.

Canada is the only country in the world that has a universal health care system but yet does not include prescription medicine.

As well, there are many countries that also include dental in their universal health care, including Italy, Greece, Germany, Finland, Denmark, and Austria, among many others. It’s clear that a national pharmacare program should be adopted to meet people’s health care needs.

In addition to the better attention to his health Murray was also able to buy more food, pay his bills in full and on time, and just “breathe a little bit easier as my wife does seasonal work and winter months are very very tough and tight.”

He says he feels “betrayed by the PC government after saying they would keep the program to see its validity and if it helped, which I believe it is.”

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 policy.

BICN conducted a survey of those people. Now, 424 responses have come back, representing more than 10 per cent of those receiving basic income in Ontario. The Lindsay Advocate is pleased to be the media partner highlighting these stories. Names have been changed to protect identities.

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