Comox United Church is committed to supporting social justice ministries in the local community as well as at national and international levels.
The overall goal of the Social Justice Group is “To promote and encourage Social Justice and Service by fostering a spirit of Outreach in the congregation, supporting ongoing programmes, and responding creatively to perceived and emerging needs.” The Group provides education for the congregation regarding social justice and service initiatives and programmes, and liaises with the Comox Valley Unitarian Fellowship and other local community groups (such as, Refugee Support groups, the Glacier Grannies, and the Mid-Islanders for Peace and Justice in the Middle East) to enable partnerships and coordination of activities.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized our interconnectedness …Our collective experience during this time presents a vital opportunity…Together we can take steps to protect the health and safety of all Canadians.”
—Moderator Richard Bott
A guaranteed livable income would help address the persistent inequities within our country. Some pandemic-related relief programs (such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, CERB) have demonstrated that it is possible to provide a kind of universal basic income.
What Is Basic Income?
A guaranteed livable income (GLI) is a payment to individuals or families by government that covers the cost of basic necessities (food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and community participation) and is not conditional on meeting employment criteria in order to qualify for the benefit. It ensures everyone an income adequate for meeting basic needs, allowing all people to live with dignity regardless of work status. Such a program would be part of the national fabric of services that preserve and protect Canadians; or, as Jesus put it, “to love our neighbours as ourselves.”
Rather than have a rules-based, bureaucratically driven application process (during which applications must prove they are "really poor" before being approved), all Canadian citizens are ensured an automatic top-up when their income collapses for whatever reason. The incomes would be unconditional, automatic, non-withdrawable, individual, and a right of every legal resident.
A guaranteed livable income is an effective way to support the reduction and elimination of poverty and insecurity; the narrowing of extreme income and wealth inequalities; shared citizenship; and improved democratic and economic functioning.
1. WRITE to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ([email protected]) and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland ([email protected]) and ask them to develop and implement a guaranteed livable income program, in collaboration with the provinces, territories, and Indigenous leadership. Please cc your own Member of Parliament. You can write your own letter or personalize the template below. You can multiply your efforts by sharing your letter with friends and encouraging them to write their own. Here are some “talking points”:
• a program that provides an adequate living level for everyone and addresses the persistent inequities that exist within the current wage and social benefit structures of our country
• a program that addresses systemic barriers experienced by Indigenous peoples in accessing relief programs
. build a program that is universally accessible and preserves human dignity rather than creating stigma, removes discriminatory barriers, does not penalize people for the work that they do, is available with a minimum of bureaucracy, and exists alongside other social supports, including health care, pharmacare, pension, and education supports.
2. WATCH some videos:
• United Church members and ministers speak out:
• “Lift the Floor: Would a universal basic income guarantee a good life for all Canadians?” (webinar by the Broadbent Institute, May 2020):
• Massey Dialogues: Hugh Segal on Judgement-free Money Efficiently Distributed: Time for a Basic Income?” (webinar, April 2020):
3. LEARN by reviewing the following resources:
• “Nuts and Bolts of a Guaranteed Livable Income”: https://unitedchurch.ca/sites/default/files/2021-02/backgrounder_guaranteed-livableincome.pdf
• “Universal basic income” (Broadview article): https://broadview.org/universalbasic-income/
• “The Intended and Unexpected Benefits of Guaranteed Basic Income (Citizens
for Public Justice, 2019): https://cpj.ca/the-intended-and-unexpected-benefits-ofguaranteed-basic-income/
• “Basic Income: Rethinking Social Policy: (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2016): https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/basicincome
• Basic Income Canada: https://basicincomecanada.org/
E-mail Template: Guaranteed Livable Income
NB: The main content can be adapted to send directly to your MP or others inside or outside government. We encourage you to personalize the message, especially if you know the person you are writing to.
Dear Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance:
Subject: A guaranteed livable income program
As a member of The United Church of Canada, I call on you to build on the positive experience of the CERB and recent cross-party and jurisdictional cooperation and roll out a guaranteed livable income program that ensures an adequate living income level for everyone and addresses the persistent inequities that exist within the present wage and social benefit structures in our country.
I urge you to build a program that is universally accessible, preserves human dignity rather than creates stigma, removes discriminatory barriers, does not penalize people for the work that they do, and is available with a minimum of bureaucracy. Particular attention should address the barriers experienced by Indigenous peoples in accessing relief programs related to COVID-19, recognizing that these are manifestations of a system that leaves Indigenous people out of decision-making and denies their rightful place in Canada’s economy.
Our collective experience as Canadians during COVID-19 and the growing momentum for such a program presents a vital opportunity. Drawing on Canadians’ realization that poverty can happen very quickly to anyone, together we can take important steps to protect the health, safety, and dignity of all Canadians going forward.
I look forward to hearing from your office.
Cc: (your member of parliament)
Current, Ongoing Work
The Social Justice Group supports the Mission and Service Fund of the United Church of Canada by coordinating weekly “Minute for Ministry” presentations either during the worship service or posted in the church newsletter and on the website. Information from the United Church of Canada regarding justice issues, invitations for action, and current disaster funding appeals are also posted in the newsletter and on the website.
The Group coordinates support for the church’s four annual offering appeals: the World Development and Relief Fund of the United Church of Canada; the Aboriginal Healing Fund; the local Food Bank; and the Our Place ministry in Victoria.
Past Work, which will resume when we gather again in person…
The Group maintains bulletin board displays of topical issues (e.g., Climate change challenges, Indigenous advocacy, and Palestinian issues) and hosts a Fair Trade table each Sunday after the worship service, selling coffee, tea, chocolate, and olive oil. Want to know more about the Fair Trade items available? Click Here!!
The Care-A-Van – Contributions of volunteer time, financial support, and material donations such as socks, toiletries, toques. Click here for the Care-A-Van website
Healthy Babies programme – Contributions of high quality canned food and other non-perishable items for this outreach programme of the Comox Valley Family Services which provides education and support to low-income and "at risk" mothers to be and new parents. Click here for information about Comox Valley Family Services
St. George's Soup Kitchen and Pantry – Contributions of volunteer time and financial support are provided for the lunchtime and pantry services operating out of St. George's United Church in Courtenay. Click here for information about St. George's Pantry
St. Peter’s Unity Cupboard – Occasional financial contributions for this drop-in programme and food bank in Comox.
Coldest Night of the Year – Fundraising support and participation in the annual walk. Visit the CNOY website https://cnoy.org/location/comoxvalley for more information and check the News item below for the results of this year's fundraising campaign and to read Gary's Story.
Collection baskets – In addition to the above ongoing projects, the Social Justice Group maintains a number of baskets in the lobby of the church to collect items for various agencies in our community:
· Toiletries – (soap, shampoo, razors, and other toiletry items) given to the Transition House and to St. George's Pantry.
· Used eye-glasses – given to local optometrists for donating to clinics in developing countries.
· Used postage stamps –given to the Canadian Cancer Society.
· Clothing bin – distributed to various recipients including the Free Store at Northgate Foursquare Church and the Care-a-Van; each fall there is usually a clothing drive to support the ministry of First United Church in Vancouver.
(NOTE: Financial donations for any of the projects supported by the Social Justice Group can be mailed to the Church Office with a note in the memo line of the cheque indicating the ministry to be supported.)