Church hosts vigil in support of guaranteed livable income in front of North Van MP’s office
The United Church of Canada’s GLI campaign inspired by ‘success’ of CERB
By Ben Bengtson, North Shore News, April 9th, 2021
Members of St. Andrew’s United Church assembled in front of North Vancouver MP Jonathan Wilkinson’s constituency office this afternoon (April 8) in order to encourage the government to roll out a guaranteed livable income program.
A small group of five staff members from the church, located on St. Georges Avenue, held the vigil around 12:30 p.m. today, part of a national effort from the United Church of Canada which held light-a-flame events at select sites across the country and encouraged congregants to spread the message in front of MPs’ offices.
“Basically we’re calling for a universal GLI which is non-discriminatory and accessible to Indigenous people and racialized folks – a livable income that would cover the cost of basic necessities and not be conditional on meeting an income criteria,” said Sarah Higgins, a communications co-ordinator with St. Andrew’s church.
Low-income and racialized communities have been hit hardest by the economic impacts of COVID-19, according to Higgins, who added a GLI would benefit everyone.
A GLI – also known as a guaranteed minimum income or universal income – is, generally speaking, a no-strings-attached government benefit that’s provided to people as opposed to a targeted social benefit. It can be means-tested and declined if a recipient has a certain income, or be truly universal.
The United Church of Canada’s GLI campaign is partly informed by the success of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, according to Higgins.
Last year, a MP from Manitoba tabled a motion to covert CERB into a permanent GLI.
Staff from St. Andrew’s during today’s event said they are hoping to see more traction for these kinds of economic strategies going forward.
“This vigil is not combative. We’re trying to look at the good stuff that’s happened and run with that,” said Higgins.
A signed document professing the church’s support for a GLI was handed to a staffer at Jonathan Wilkinson’s constituency office. The small group then descended on Vancouver Centre MP Hedy Fry’s office for a similar light-a-flame event.