Policy and Political Action

Policy & Political Action

Basic Income Pilot Recommendations

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses (RN), nurse practitioners (NP), and nursing students in all roles and sectors across Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses' contributions to shaping the health system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.

RNAO appreciates the opportunity to provide feedback to the Ministry of Community and Social Services on a basic income pilot. The process has put a spotlight on divergent policy frameworks and public discourse to inform what is essentially a discussion about values and human rights. Bringing this proposal forward has given additional energy, purpose, and passion to the critical question of what kind of society do we wish to build?

Consistent with RNAO's mission, ENDS, and provincial political platforms, RNAO remains committed to building a healthy and vibrant Ontario where nobody is left behind. The fundamental principles that are the foundation for RNAO's recommendations for healthy public policy include: equity; dignity; accountability, transparency, democracy; upstream, visionary policies; fairness and respect for Indigenous Peoples; and health and health care for all.

Recommendations on Basic Income Pilot

Immediately act on multiple poverty fronts:

  • Increase Ontario's dangerously low social assistance rates (Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Assistance Program) to reflect the actual cost of living and then index for inflation. RNAO supports the recommendation of the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition (ISARC) and the Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC) to invest $1 billion in social assistance in Budget 2017 as a necessary first step. Within this amount, $700 million should be invested in an 10 per cent increase in basic needs and shelter allowance rates. The remaining $300 million should be invested in rule changes to ensure basic fairness, remove punishments, better support relationships and work, and allow savings.
  • Improve access to affordable housing and stimulate job creation by investing one per cent of Ontario's budget ($1.39 billion) to address the backlog of existing affordable housing units in need of repair and to create new affordable housing stock.
  • Raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour with no exemptions regarding age or sector.
  • Cover all classes of workers and employers under the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act. Update those acts to protect all workers, including access to personal emergency leave, paid sick days, and enhanced enforcement of strengthened labour laws.
  • Develop and implement a plan (preferably via changes to the ESA) to deliver the same wages, benefits and working conditions to workers in nonstandard employment as those in standard employment, under the same terms and conditions (e.g., doing the same work with the same seniority).
  • Implementing a basic income pilot project for Ontario:
  • Provide a basic income pilot for Ontario with strong ethical safeguards. Ensure that no participant is worse off and make sure that there is no erosion of the current social safety net for the broader population.
  • The primary objective or purpose of the basic income pilot must be to eliminate poverty and its negative impacts on individual, family, and community health. While data and insight into other issues and trade-offs may be gathered, secondary considerations must not drive the design of the program.
  • Basic income pilot amount must be aligned with adequacy for health and dignity no less than 100 per cent of the low-income measure (LIM).
  • In order to honour Ontario's commitment to reconciliation and improve Indigenous health, implement Hugh Segal's recommendation that the design of a basic income pilot adapted to the realities of Indigenous communities be "under the full prerogative of the First Nations Chiefs of Ontario."
  • Include a formal representative from the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario as a full member of the Basic Income Pilot Advisory Council, given their in-depth expertise and reach across all geographies and populations in Ontario.

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