So everyone is talking about Basic income in my province. Ontario is working on putting together a test run of basic income. you have your advocates and your haters, just about everyone has a side. What side are you on?
I have an opinion of this, which I will reserve for the end of this post. This post is more about how basic income could affect libraries and in particular public libraries. let us imagine that the basic income replaces many social programs in the province with a $1300 per month per person. how does this impact the services we as public libraries offer?
I for one believe that this could be a good thing, as it will in theory lift people out of poverty and help those most in need, also helping those who use public libraries very often. the poor, disabled,and aging population of our province.
These people will need new services, they may not have to navigate the governments many hoops and different departments, which is a positive, but the new system will be foreign to many and will require expertise and know how to navigate for sure. That is where we come in.
We as librarians should be ready and updated on this program, how will it work? what are the challenges of getting on/staying on the program. With this new program will there be cuts to other programs to pay or centralize this? You can bet your cardigan it will.
What are people going to lose? Will they need to find new dental programs and medical programs if they are cut to fund basic income? what happens to those students who needed OSAP to go to school, does the new program assume 1300/month is enough to go to school and live off of or is it reformulated to offer less money? How do students cope with this change?
People are going to need help figuring out what they actually gained and lost, as well as figuring out where they stand when the dust settles on this program.
My thoughts on basic income sort of come through in the previous paragraphs. I think it is a necessity. Many basic level jobs are disappearing to automation and in the future a factory will be run by 1 person in an office overseeing a pile of computers. Unemployment will become rampant, and it will be libraries that will save the people from mass hysteria, people don’t react well to change. Basic income is one idea and I think it is a good idea, but that is not to say it wont come without a cost. Many of the social programs we depend on be it OSAP, Disability, Child Benefits, Government Pension Plan, Welfare, Healthcare will be changed in a significant way. We must be prepared for this change, as people will want more information and access to these programs as we move forward.