Media Release: More investments in our social safety net, including a basic income, will make life more affordable for vulnerable Edmontonians, says new joint ESPC and CEASE Report
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
EDMONTON – Making ends meet has always been a challenge for low-income individuals and families, particularly women, and the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these inequities even further. A suite of recommendations of robust investments in our social safety net from the provincial government and non-profit organizations would help address the situation, according to a new report published by the Edmonton Social Planning Council (ESPC) in partnership with the Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation (CEASE).
Bridging the Affordability Gap summarizes the results of a short-term bridge funding program involving five women – three of them single parents – with histories of sexual exploitation who were facing financial difficulties making ends meet and did not want to turn back to the sex trade to pay the bills. For five months (November 2020 to March 2021), project funding covered basic living costs, financial coaching, and provided other supports. CEASE staff worked with each person to identify gaps in their budget, address them on a short-term basis, and take steps toward earning a sustainable and liveable income.
The project and summary report highlights the need for governments to renew their investments into the social safety net, where large gaps have been made even more apparent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These include reforms to provincial income support and affordable housing programs to reduce barriers to eligibility, reinstate indexing to income support programs so they keep pace with the cost of living, identify opportunities for low-income Edmontonians to save on telecommunications plans, and others. It also makes the case that a basic income program would be beneficial for vulnerable populations.
“Participants in the program reported that life would be a lot easier with a basic income program,” says Susan Morrissey, Executive Director for the Edmonton Social Planning Council. “Many wouldn’t have turned to the sex trade if such a program were in place. The COVID-19 pandemic has renewed the urgency for re-thinking our social safety nets and the benefits of a basic income program need to be part of the equation.”
As a result of the five-month bridge funding program, project participants reported improved situations, which includes increased financial literacy, improved emotional well-being, enrollment in educational programs, among other positive impacts.
The full report is available on our website.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Brett Lambert, Community Engagement Coordinator
Edmonton Social Planning Council