Livable Income

PEI Working Group for a Livable Income

Cooper Institute works on the issues of livable income through the PEI Working Group for Livable Income (WGLI), a non-governmental network of ten community-based organizations and a number of individual members. The group was formed in 2003 in response to a community request. It has functioned as a collective with consensus decision-making.

What do we mean by livable income?

The PEI Working Group for a Livable Income considers a livable income to include enough to pay rent or mortgage and monthly utility bills, to buy nutritious food and medicine, to use transportation, to continue learning, to access childcare or eldercare, to participate in the community, and to cover emergencies. A livable income supports people to live in good health and in dignity.

A guiding principle of our group is inclusion. It is a fact that society continues to exclude people or to discriminate against them on the basis of gender, racial and ethnic origins, age, sexual orientation, and physical and intellectual ability. The Working Group asserts that the health of Islanders and of our province's economy will be enhanced by the enactment of livable income.

Mandate and Work of the PEI Working Group for a Livable Income

From the beginning, the PEI Working Group for a Livable Income has seen the need to address the on-going roots of impoverishment of a large number of people in PEI. This means having a long-term goal of establishing a system of guaranteed livable income for all Islanders. This poverty elimination program is Basic Income Guarantee (BIG). The Working Group formalized its Basic Income Guarantee program in 2013 and called it C-BIG PEI (Campaign for a Basic Income Guarantee PEI). We were the first BIG group in Canada; now there are at least 20 community-based BIG organizations as well as the national organization, Basic Income Canada Network, of which we are members. Here in PEI we carry out continuous research, and ongoing consultations with community and public policy makers. As well we maintain consistent formal and social media coverage.

While addressing the long-term goal, WGLI continues to urge the community and governments, in the shorter term, to support and develop strong poverty reduction strategies to shore up current income sources and develop policies and programs which include providing: livable wages, a fair EI system, adequate social assistance payments, pensions, and increases in disability supports and Old Age Security, affordable housing, food security, access to dental and mental health care and to prescription drugs.

Over the past few years, the Working Group has participated in reviews of the Employment Standards Act, and has made presentations to various Ministers and both governing and opposition caucuses. In 2006, the group organized public meetings as part of a pre-election strategy to encourage Islanders to name livable income as an issue in the provincial election campaign.

Working Group members keep livable income “on the radar” by writing letters to the editor and opinion pieces, and by making sure that whenever health, the economy, or jobs are on the agenda, in workshops, public meetings or at conferences, livable income is part of the discussion.