May 19th, 2024

Basic income would support the arts sector

By Jana MacKenzie, Allied Arts Council on October 2, 2021.

During the long days of isolation and shut-downs we’ve all had the arts to keep us entertained and connected. And though theatres, live music venues, and galleries were the first to have their doors shuttered, artists across disciplines continued to produce and present their work virtually, and often for free. This disruption is not only felt at the individual and local level, but also federally, where as outlined by Statistics Canada, the arts and culture sector contributed $53.1 Billion to Canada’s GDP in 2017. The Canadian Association for the Performing Arts (CAPACOA) reported that in 2020, alongside recreation, the arts and entertainment sector experienced the largest loss of employment. However, it was workers in the performing arts sector that felt the biggest blow to their income, with nearly 61 per cent less hours worked. The roll-out of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) provided many Canadian workers the income support needed to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. Many of these workers experienced, some for the first time, how powerful a consistent and guaranteed income could be for their mental and physical well-being. Unfortunately, there remained many who were ineligible for government support because their prior year income was too low to qualify.
The COVID-19 pandemic, and resulting social and economic upheaval, has shone a light on the gaps in our income support system and the unfair valuation of work throughout our society.
When we consider all of the unpaid and undervalued work that props up our economy, providing a direct minimum income to individuals when they need it seems logical. We need to do away with the old adage of pulling oneself up by the boot-straps, because we know that without boots there is no leverage. Economic recovery policies tend to focus on investing in the private sector to stimulate job creation, but with-or-without tax breaks to corporations or grants to small businesses the prevalence of low-wage, precarious work remains a reality. It is estimated that one in seven Canadians are living in poverty and in Alberta, 78 per cent of low-income families are working-poor. Our post-pandemic economic recovery plan cannot ignore how effective and necessary it is to invest directly into the lives and livelihoods of individuals and families.
Unlike current income support programs that disincentivize work and penalize individuals for seeking out training and higher-education, a basic income policy would recognize that people have different needs when it comes to building resilience and investing in their future.
A basic income would guarantee an income floor for everyone and because of its effectiveness and simplicity, would reduce bureaucracy and red-tape. A basic income is about preventing poverty and filling the gaps left by the labour market.
Alongside adequate mental health, family, and disability services, a basic income (whether it be universal, income-tested, or a negative income tax) is about treating people with dignity and directly confronting income inequality. Such a plan would definitely support those in the creative arts and culture sector providing much needed stability – especially in uncertain times.

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Yes, who does not want something for nothing ! Certainly the artsy types do !

old school

Yes, we don’t want to do anything productive ,and government(taxpayers who actually work) should pay our way.This is called welfare BTW.


Can I be first to feed at the “Public Trough” Hopefully its buffet style!

pursuit diver

Canada’s debt for 20 years stayed between $550 billion to $750 billion, but in the last 2 years went to $1.4 trillion. The interest alone is $425 million per day! Provincial and federal grants/funding are going to be slashed!
Lethbridge has seen over $40 million put into the arts in the last 5 years and we face more important issues to deal with.
I would suggest that you somehow come back to reality, whether it is from keeping you head in a cloud of Cannabis smoke or whatever, there are more important issues we now face.
As people are hit by the crunch of cutbacks, money will even be scarce for donating to all of the social programs that support the homeless/addicts! Time to grow up and find reality again! Money just doesn’t fall from the heavens or grow on trees!
People will be trying to survive on their own and it is time that we all do what ever work is needed to survive, even it we don’t like it or not what we dreamed.
People come to Canada from war-torn countries with only the clothes on their backs, fleeing for their lives with a debt to repay Canada for their transportation here and within a few years have paid back that debt, have build up a home for themselves, even purchased one and have a vehicle, doing all this on their own, while working 2 or 3 jobs!
Canadians have been spoiled since WWII, with little to no major events to threaten their livelihoods and now feel entitled to everything!
Wake up call! Time to face reality! Do you know that 99% of Canadians are better off than 86% of the world’s population?
Maybe you shouldn’t have blown over $40 million on venues! No sympathy here!


Just have a kid or two. Every mom in Canada with gets $500/month in free money. And that’s just for the first kid.

Dennis Bremner

Thank you for this article Jana, because I was able to determine, I can now handle much higher levels of “people looking for a free ride in life”, then I previously thought!

Last edited 2 years ago by Dennis Bremner