National Framework for a Guaranteed Livable Basic Income Act

An Act to develop a national framework for a guaranteed livable basic income


Leah Gazan  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)


Second reading (House), as of May 8, 2024

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-223.


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment requires the Minister of Finance to develop a national framework to provide all persons over the age of 17 in Canada with access to a guaranteed livable basic income. It also provides for reporting requirements with respect to the framework.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Opposition Motion—Measures to Lower Food PricesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 4th, 2024 / 4:30 p.m.
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Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is just so nice to be here again this evening.

I know the Conservatives have tried to adjourn the House, calling quorum time and time again, because they really do not want to talk about the fact that people are starving, even though very often in the House they demean folks living in tent cities in poverty, folks who happen to live in my riding, actual human beings who are often struggling with mental health and addictions. The Conservatives put them down. We are talking about the cost of living, and the Conservatives weaponize, demean and stigmatize people living in poverty.

I am glad I get to rise here today to speak to an issue that is affecting people across the country: rising food costs, rising food insecurity and rising financial insecurity, which is one of the reasons I put forward a private member's bill, Bill C-223, in support of a guaranteed livable basic income.

We know things are getting harder for people. The cost of food has increased by over 20%, and we know that one in five Canadians is skipping meals. This is nothing new in my riding, a riding that has some very serious human rights violations directly related to poverty. What I have often said is that poverty is one of the most avoidable, violent human rights violations in this country. Poverty is a violation of the Canadian charter, yet the Conservatives today are trying to have the House adjourned because they really do not care about struggling Canadians.

I have not seen any of the Conservatives fight for issues that would change the material conditions for the folks I am so proud to represent in Winnipeg Centre. I am proud to represent all my constituents, including constituents who live in tents as a result of failed housing policies and the corporate greed that has been sponsored by Conservatives and Liberals, which is something we are talking about today.

We know the grocery sector is making record profits. In 2023 it raked in $6 billion. This is unconscionable, especially in a place like the riding of Winnipeg Centre. If we want to talk about people having a hard time, a hard time is figuring out every day how one is actually going to survive. What do the Conservatives do? I am bringing this up because it is pretty grotesque the way people in my community are put down regularly, stigmatized and marginalized. They are people who are doing their very best to survive, but as a result of failed housing policies by the Conservatives and Liberals, they are now living in tents, and nobody is talking about affordable housing with rent geared to income. Nobody is talking about co-operative housing except New Democrats.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives are trying to adjourn a debate on grocery pricing, which is totally unacceptable when people are struggling to make ends meet.

I cannot remember the name of his riding, but a member is trying to heckle. He probably has big feelings about my calling out the fact that he puts down some of the most vulnerable folks in Canada, many of whom live in my riding. I have to call that out, because I was elected to stick up for people, to respect people and to ensure that people have human rights and can live in dignity, not so they can be pushed down, shamed and kicked in the face by Conservatives.

We know that Conservatives do not care. I am going to give some examples. I have a whole textbook of headlines, and I hope I do not faint and run out of breath. The first ones are “Corporate lobbyists are flocking to [the member for Carleton]'s cash-for-access fundraisers” and “A Conservative collection of Harper...scandals”. There is a good one about the Senate appointees Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin. There are headlines about election scandals in 2006. There was Maxime Bernier. There are headlines about Veterans Affairs not looking after veterans; the Conservatives called that one a no-brainer.

On Afghan detainees, there was a news story about a Canadian diplomat, Richard Colvin, who appeared before a parliamentary committee and made a bombshell charge that detainees taken captive by Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan and transferred to local authorities were almost certainly being tortured and abused. Conservatives certainly do not care about newcomers to Canada and ensuring they live in dignity. There are articles about G8 funding and the $50 million spent.

Of course, let us not forget Peter MacKay, the guy who had to be rescued from a salmon fishing lodge in a private jet that cost $16,000. There is the fact that the member for Thornhill was recorded as a lobbyist for Walmart. The Conservatives were caught with the $50-million bread price-fixing scandal. There are many more examples, but I have important points to make. As I said, I just about fainted, running out of air with all the hot air I hear from the Conservatives all the time.

However, we know that some of these issues are the most severe in northern communities, which are being awfully impacted by the climate emergency. Farmers are concerned about the climate emergency because their crops are burning down. We want to talk about cost of living and things getting tough. Why do we not talk about the climate emergency and the fact that Manitoba farmers are concerned because they cannot make any money off their crops? They are literally burning to the ground.

Of indigenous households with children, 52% experience food insecurity compared to 9% of non-indigenous households. Food prices are 2.5 times higher in indigenous communities than the national average. We have heard all about nutrition north. There is the CEO of Giant Tiger, or the North West Company. Members of the Conservative Party are owners in that corporation, which is how closely tied they are, and they are making multi-millions of dollars.

The result is that many indigenous households have no choice but to rely on cheaper, less-nutritious options, such as highly saturated and processed foods, to feed their families. If we want to talk about saving money, how about ensuring that people can have access to nutritious foods so that we do not have greater costs to the health care system? Diabetes, for example, is often related to nutrition. Why do we not talk about that?

This affects dignity. It affects one's ability to live a healthy life. It causes psychological distress, and although the Liberals are talking about how they cannot put on price caps, the Liberals actually need to start talking about the fact that we need more competition. However, we do not need more grocery competition by big CEOs and these big companies, such as Metro, Loblaws or Walmart. We need more competition by supporting—

Opposition Motion—Summer Tax BreakBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2024 / 11:35 a.m.
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Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, this morning I heard the Conservative leader on his nonsense plan and the fact that the Conservatives want to axe the facts. First of all, we heard an attack on media, one of the pillars of democracy, and then we heard an attack on academic institutions.

We know that climate change is real, for those who actually believe in science, and we know that the Conservatives' plan is just to prop up big oil and give big oil companies a wonderful summer of profits instead of going after big oil, which they are friends of. However, at the same time, the Liberal government is still allowing fossil fuel subsidies.

It is not that I question the sincerity of my hon. colleague, but I want to ask him a couple of things.

Does he support his government's continual support of the fossil fuel industry and propping up big oil?

Also, the member was talking about the cost of living, and I have a private member's bill coming forward, Bill C-223, to put in place a guaranteed livable basic income. He said that one of the reasons he ran was to change legislation to tackle poverty head on. We know, in terms of facts and leading economists, including Evelyn Forget, who got an Order of Canada, that this is the way to do it.

Could the member respond?

May 23rd, 2024 / 10:05 a.m.
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Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

I agree with you. I think it is a non-partisan issue; it should be, especially when we're talking about making sure kids have what they need to be able to learn.

I believe in supporting families, and I believe in ensuring that families, children and all people have what they need to live in dignity. One of the things I've proposed is putting in place a framework for a guaranteed livable basic income with Bill C-223. Would you be supportive of that idea, and if so, why?

Budget Implementation Act, 2024, No. 1Government Orders

May 21st, 2024 / 8:15 p.m.
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Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, one of those ideas is a guaranteed livable basic income. This has been researched and studied, and it is something that is being facilitated in some of the happiest countries in the world right now.

We know that, when we look after people, it is good economics. I hope that my hon. colleague across the way supports good economics, supports ensuring that people can live in human rights and dignity, and supports my bill, Bill C-223.

Budget Implementation Act, 2024, No. 1Government Orders

May 21st, 2024 / 8:05 p.m.
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Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to have an opportunity to speak to the budget today. I would like to start with the positives. I know that my NDP colleagues and I achieved a number of good things in the budget. Certainly, the national school food program is an absolutely historic shift. It is something that the NDP has fought for and that we pushed to make sure was part of the budget.

We are ensuring the beginnings of a pharmacare program with access to medication for diabetes and contraception. There is the fact that the Conservatives have voted against it. There are currently more than nine million people of reproductive age in Canada, many of whom lack access to contraception and experience unintentional pregnancies as a result. My colleague from the Conservative Party was talking about fundamental human rights. It is a shame that not only are the Conservatives going to anti-choice rallies and physically invested in violating the fundamental right to protect reproductive health, but they also voted against access to free contraception. This is anti-feminist, anti-women and anti-equality, and it denies women, particularly, the ability to choose how they wish to proceed in their life.

I have to say that, even with the Liberals, this is something we had to fight for and something they have often failed to uphold, including being a disappointment in the budget. In spite of the fact that we have abortion clinics either closing or at risk of closing and, in my riding of Winnipeg Centre in Manitoba, the only abortion clinic closing, we still have to fight for the right to access trauma-informed abortion care. In fact, even though it seems to be convenient to use jurisdictional cards on certain matters, it is a shame that the federal government continues to violate women's and gender-diverse folks' right to access safe, trauma-informed abortion care in doing so. Respecting reproductive rights and respecting the right to choose is a so-called pillar of their government, but it is one thing to respect a right and another thing to give access to that right. This is something that I have really pushed in the House but that the current government has failed on. Nobody should have to take a plane across the country or to phone a hotline to get access to safe, trauma-informed abortion care. That is a failure of the Liberal government. Let us not forget the Conservative Party members, who are all listed on anti-choice websites. That is shameful.

However, it is good that the NDP fought to get a pharmacare program started, including the access to free contraception and diabetes medication. We need to have this in place, because free contraception is also a matter of personal privacy and confidentiality. People need to be able to access contraception. They should not have to seek approval of a partner or parent, especially if they are in coercive or abusive relationships. We know that many young women and gender-diverse people can only access contraception through the permission of their parents or partner, particularly in cases where they do not have the financial resources to access this care.

I am glad, again, that we have a school food program. I am pleased that some people can now benefit from a dental care program.

However, the budget falls flat, particularly in regard to the disability benefit. It is a slap in the face to the disability community.

Again, $200 a month is something that I know is insignificant. I represent one of the poorest ridings in this country. We can have band-aids for programs or communities, such as food banks, which are absolutely critical. However, if we want to get at the roots of poverty in this country, we need to start looking at and finding solutions for the growing income inequality, where we see the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. That is why I am pleased that the NDP pushed forward an excess profit tax on grocery chains and one of the reasons I pushed forward on my bill, Bill C-223, to put in place a framework for a guaranteed livable basic income. This has been supported by all the members of the NDP caucus, the majority of NDP members and women's organizations that are dealing with gender-based violence. We know it will save taxpayer dollars, because we always neglect to talk about the high costs of poverty. It is also something that the Conservatives turn a blind eye to with their sound bites and rhetoric, with no real solutions to alleviate suffering. The Liberals, again, talk a good game, but when they actually have to do something, there is nothing easier to keep than a broken Liberal promise.

My bill is coming up for debate. I hope that all members of Parliament are serious about this. People are talking about an affordability crisis and the fact that there are more and more people unhoused. We have given them a real solution, a real investment in affordable housing with rent geared to income. It would be a real investment in “for indigenous, by indigenous” housing, something that my colleagues, the members for Nunavut and East Vancouver, have led the charge for the NDP to implement. Affordable housing with rent geared to income and a guaranteed livable basic income are things that I, along with the NDP caucus, have supported, as well as a school food program and a national child care program that prioritizes not-for-profit public care.

We know that the Conservatives do not support those programs. They voted against pharmacare. They screamed and yelled about the national child care program, but then voted in favour of it, I think for political reasons. They voted against a national school food meal program for kids. Who would vote against kids having food so they do not go to school hungry? That was something that we had to fight the Liberals for, for years and years, and we succeeded.

In the fall, my private member's bill should come up for a vote. I will see at that time how serious elected officials in the House of Commons from the Liberals, the Conservatives, the Bloc party and the Green Party are about eradicating poverty once and for all.

I hope that my hope is correct and that people really do care about eradicating poverty in this country. I hope I see that all the members in the House of Commons really do care about the affordability crisis that we are being faced with and vote for my bill, Bill C-223, to put in place a guaranteed livable basic income.

National Framework for a Guaranteed Livable Basic Income ActPrivate Members' Business

May 8th, 2024 / 5:30 p.m.
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Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

moved that Bill C-223, An Act to develop a national framework for a guaranteed livable basic income, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, I rise today to urge my colleagues to support Bill C-223, an act to develop a national framework for a guaranteed livable basic income. This bill, in fact, addresses many of the critical issues that we are facing today, and I hope my colleagues will join the NDP in voting in favour of this bill and sending it to committee for consideration.

Before I go on, I would like to remind all of my colleagues in the House, across party lines, that every single party has committed to implementing all 231 calls for justice at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. One of the key calls for justice that is being advocated to end the ongoing genocide against indigenous women and girls is call for justice 4.5 to put in place a guaranteed income for indigenous peoples and for all other Canadians. My bill is merely heeding that call, particularly in support of ending gender-based violence for all people, including indigenous women.

This bill is essential because we know that Canada's current social safety net has become totally inadequate. I will give a couple of examples. The guaranteed income supplement for seniors is an income guarantee that is not livable. As we hear disability advocates lobby government across the country with the new disability benefit, once again, what is required to live in dignity is not being provided.

We have income guarantees in this country. My bill is actually not offering up a new idea. What my bill would do, however, along with over 100,000 advocates across the country, is urge elected officials to ensure that everybody in Canada has what they need to live in dignity, and that is not happening. According to a recent study by Statistics Canada, one in 10 people lives in poverty in Canada as of last year. We have also seen a disturbing rise in child poverty in recent years. Some of the poorest children in this country, in an urban centre, live in my riding of Winnipeg Centre, and even though we have been talking about how to lift people up in Canada, nobody has put anything on the table that achieves it beyond cheap political sound bites.

Ed Broadbent, in 1989, passed a motion to end child poverty by the year 2000. However, here we are with piecemeal approaches to deal with poverty that contributes directly to a gender-based violence crisis that has been noted in some urban centres as an epidemic. We talk about families struggling to buy food. In 1989, Ed Broadbent called for the eradication of poverty in the year 2000. We are now in the year 2024 and inequality is increasing, as we see a growing disparity between the ultrarich and those who are barely making ends meet, if they are.

We are seeing a rise, for the first time, in people becoming unhoused. Families are rolling onto the streets. Why? It is not that we do not have a solution that has been studied, as I will speak to, but it is that members of Parliament have not joined in unity and political will to uphold human rights in this country, to uphold our Canadian Charter of Rights and to ensure that nobody has to live in poverty.

Poverty is something I have called one of the most violent human rights violations. If we want to talk about a mental health crisis in this country, we have one. I can tell members that when we do not provide people with their basic human rights, such as housing, as my colleague from Nunavut brought up today, access to clean drinking water, food security or the ability to know that the next day one would be able to survive, that is bad for one's mental health. It is guised in the House, as I hear lately, as this visceral, cruel rhetoric around people struggling, particularly those with addictions, and around poor-bashing, bashing people who are already down instead of talking about comprehensive solutions to lift people up.

It is for these reasons, for the things that I see every day on the streets of Winnipeg Centre and around the country, for the wonderful people who surround me, for the human beings living in encampments and are my constituents, whom I visit, have relationships with and have respect for, I put forward this bill. If we are going to complain about people living in encampments and about people struggling with mental health, if we are going to talk about issues around ending gender-based violence, I do not want to hear about it in this place anymore, unless people are willing to do what they need to do to make sure that people can live in dignity.

In the case of violence, should people choose to leave, they should have the financial resources to do so. They should have a guaranteed livable basic income in addition to other programs and supports meant to meet specific and special needs as my bill stipulates, such as affordable housing with rent geared to income and extra benefits for persons with disabilities so that they have what they need to pay for extra costs, for medications and for things to help them physically should they need them.

I am offering us an opportunity to do the right thing and lift people out of poverty, including the number of children in care in my riding. They age out of care and, at age 18, get dropped off at the Salvation Army without any income or housing, and we wonder why things are the way they are today.

Then I have to listen to Conservatives, even though as a teacher, I know that families and children have been struggling with hunger longer than the last 10 years. I know that families have had housing insecurity, longer than the last 10 years, that has been made worse by Conservative and by Liberal governments that have failed to invest in affordable social housing with rent geared to income and that have failed to provide people with income guarantees that allow them to live in dignity.

We can do better. That is why I put forward this bill. For anybody over the age of 17, including students, refugee claimants, temporary foreign migrant workers, kids who would age out of care into income insecurity and without housing, and any seniors in my riding who are currently on the verge of being houseless, it would provide them what they need, especially for women.

Many seniors who worked in the unpaid care economy and who do not have pensions cannot live off what they get from the guaranteed income supplement. Is this how we want seniors to live in this country? Is this how we want children to live in this country? Is this how we want the disability community to live in this country? We turn a blind eye to human rights violations, turn a blind eye to gender-based violence and turn a blind eye to ageism, targeting primarily women. We do not have to. A lot of people say this is going to cost a lot of money, so why implement a guaranteed livable basic income? We have inflation right now. It is out of control.

Let us talk about the high cost of poverty. I want to talk about, specifically, the Dauphin study in Manitoba that an NDP government put forward in the 1980s. What they found was that folks who participated in the program had higher rates of graduation and their mental health improved. In fact, although there were a lot of myths, which have not ever been proven by research, that people stopped working, what they found was that they saved in health care costs. What they found was they saved costs by not having to provide what was needed to support good mental health, which includes ensuring that people have what they need to live in dignity.

In research, a lot of the myths around guaranteed incomes do not add up. In fact, the Government of Ontario, in 2017, launched a basic income pilot that provided 4,000 low-income people with cash transfers to help with their cost of living. Observers found that work placements and community involvement actually increased, not decreased. School retention improved. Health outcomes, especially mental health, were more positive, as reported by program recipients, affirming the findings from the study in Dauphin in the 1980s.

It is not like Canada would be the first. In fact, there are countries around the world that have implemented a guaranteed livable basic income, where people feel the happiest, and, in fact, those countries have growing economies.

I do not want to hear in the House about the cost of living. I am tired of hearing poor bashing and bashing people with addictions in the most grotesque, pathologizing and stereotyping terms. I am so tired of governments talking about lifting people up when we have something before us that is a good economic policy and, in fact, is a cost saver.

If we do not have the political will to implement a guaranteed livable basic income, I question our commitment as parliamentarians to eradicating poverty in this country. I question our commitment as parliamentarians to doing what pretty much every single women's organization that deals with violence has stated very clearly, and I say “pretty much” because I have not talked to every one. We need a guaranteed livable basic income now.

It is through that, through respecting our charter and through respecting human rights, we will build a better country for all.

February 6th, 2024 / 12:40 p.m.
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Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

One of the things that I put forward in this Parliament is Bill C-223 to implement a guaranteed livable basic income. I'll give you a couple of examples why.

Many seniors are women who worked in unpaid care work for their lives. Their kids grew up, and these senior women have no pension to benefit from. A guaranteed livable basic income.... We know that the current GIS system is not livable for seniors in this country.

Would a guaranteed livable basic income assist, particularly in rural and remote areas, in offsetting the issues around child care and other care?

November 6th, 2023 / 4:30 p.m.
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Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

I know that you spoke about financial barriers. One of the things that I've proposed in this Parliament is for a guaranteed livable basic income. I'll give you an example.

One of my neighbours always wanted to open a business. While she was collecting the CERB because she couldn't work during that time, she got an education and now is an entrepreneur. I'm trying to put forward a bill, Bill C-223, to put in place a guaranteed livable basic income in addition to things like affordable housing with rent geared to income to support the economic empowerment of women, particularly women who've been marginalized by systems. I'm thinking of women living with disabilities, immigrant or migrant women, racialized women and Black or indigenous women.

Do you think a guaranteed livable basic income for women who want to pursue entrepreneurship, for example, would be helpful?

National Framework for a School Food Program ActPrivate Members' Business

November 1st, 2023 / 6:45 p.m.
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Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my hon. colleague on C-322, an act to develop a national framework to establish a school food program. My colleague for Vancouver Kingsway and I put forward a similar bill in this Parliament, to push forward a school food program for children.

This is something that has been called for by experts and advocates for a long time, for many years, to develop a national school meal program. Canada continues to be one of the few industrial countries to not have such a program or national standards. We actually ranked 37th out of 41 wealthy countries, in terms of providing schoolchildren with nutritious food, according to a 2017 UNICEF study.

In fact, if we add first nations communities, which are often left out of these statistics, Canada falls even further behind. That is shameful in a country as rich as Canada.

Prior to teaching at university, in the faculty of education, where I taught for many years, I actually taught in schools. I taught in an inner-city school. As a new teacher, I noticed that the kids in the classroom where I was teaching had sometimes significant behavioural issues.

I then realized what the root of the problem was. It was that the kids going to school in my class were hungry. They could not learn. Their learning was impaired. Because of their hunger, they became disruptive in the classroom. Therefore, one of my first lessons as a new teacher, to control behaviour in my classroom, was to ensure that kids were not hungry.

I put in a toaster with bread, granola bars and apples. I did not make the kids ask for food. I respected their dignity. I respected the dignity of their families, who were doing the best they could at the time but could not afford food.

This is not a new problem. Besides what Conservatives try to pull, indicating that this is a new problem, it was under a Conservative government, in fact, that my kids in the classroom were going to school hungry.

It is about a dilapidated, archaic social safety net that is keeping families further behind. One reason I put forward a bill for a guaranteed livable basic income is that, in a country as rich as Canada, nobody should go to school hungry. That was Bill C-223, the same bill that Senator Kim Pate put forward on her side.

This basic human right to food security should not be denied to anybody, especially children, whose learning is impacted in schools when they are literally starving. Having put a toaster in my classroom and having bread and fruit, I noticed that, instead of being disruptive, the kids were attentive. Instead of feeling demoralized by having to share that there was not enough food in their home, they could, with dignity, just eat.

I said to them, if they were hungry, they could just take food. I need snacks all the time. We get hungry. They could just help themselves. I made sure to have this in my classroom.

Boy, what a difference I saw in these bright, dynamic, inspiring, courageous young people. They had so many barriers, it was amazing they made it to class, let alone having food security, a basic human right, being a barrier to the learning that they were trying to do in my classroom.

As I said, no child should attend school on an empty stomach.

The Liberals first promised this national school program in 2019. Four years later, thanks to their colleague, they put forward a private member's bill, but they still have not delivered. Kids still go to school hungry.

The Conservatives are completely silent on the issue. In fact, in this debate today, instead of fighting to ensure that kids do not go to school hungry, they make everything about oil and gas. I stood on a point of order about that earlier, because it is unacceptable that, on the backs of kids' human rights, we take this time to politicize kids' hunger. It infuriates me today that even when we are talking about kids' hunger, we are talking about oil and gas.

The New Democrats have been on this page long before the Liberal promise and this bill, and we are going to keep advocating for the creation of a national school food program that ensures that every child and every family will have access to nutritious, healthy food. This can be done by addressing gaps in our social safety net, gaps that have not kept up with inflation and leave families behind. We very often politicize issues in this place, to my disappointment and certainly to the disappointment of families in Winnipeg Centre, which competes for the highest child poverty rates in an urban centre in the country. We need to make time for them. That is our job in this House: to fight for those who have elected us.

We know that EIA rates have not kept up. Now families, more than ever, are choosing between food and rent. They are experiencing, for the first time, being unsheltered and, as a result, having to literally depend on food banks to get fed. This is unacceptable. We should never need food banks, because people should always be given enough to have their basic human rights met. We have a Constitution in this country, which says that everybody should live with security and in dignity. This is a principle, a fundamental law in our Constitution, which we fail to uphold. We need food programs in schools right now; the NDP will support the bill, but the Liberals need to put it in place.

So many children in this country are going hungry. There are certain kids in this country who, depending on immigration status, do not even get the Canada child benefit and are even more hungry. There is a human rights case on this. We need to address the issue of poverty. We cannot constantly politicize human rights in this place. Not everything is a political sound bite. Not everything needs to get in the media. Sometimes, we need to be in touch with our basic humanity, especially when we are talking about the hunger of children in this country. This is the reason I felt a need to rise on a point of order in the House. This is an issue that we should not even be debating right now.

We should not delay. I want to congratulate the member on putting forward this bill. I want him to know that my party will be supporting it. I hope the Conservatives, if they are so worried about families, support this bill, make sure that we update the social safety net, stop with the sound bites and make sure no child in this country ever goes to school hungry.

Child Health Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

October 18th, 2023 / 6:55 p.m.
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Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak in support of Bill C-252, the child health protection act.

For many years, the NDP has been calling for a law to stop junk food advertising aimed at children, and 11 years ago we called for such a ban, but no action was taken by successive Conservative and Liberal governments. I am hopeful that with the support from all parties, we can pass this bill and stop the barrage of junk food ads directed toward kids.

I am also hoping that we go further than that, by putting in place a national school food program that gives every child the nutritious food they need to thrive.

The evidence is clear that banning junk food directed at young children leads to better health outcomes. Quebec has had such a ban in place for over 40 years and the results speak for themselves. Fast food consumption in Quebec has gone down by 13% since the law was put in place. In addition, Quebec has the lowest obesity rates among five- to 17-year-olds and the highest consumption of fruits and vegetables in Canada.

It is a true nutrition success story that should be applied across the country. Not only will a law to stop junk food advertising benefit our kids' health, it also makes financial sense.

This is a preventative step that in the long term will mean fewer visits to the ER for preventable diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. At a time when our health care system is strained and faced with an aging population, it is a no-brainer for us to reduce the pressure on the system by passing this bill into law.

It is immoral for the CEOs of big food companies to be profiting off pushing junk food to young children. As much of 90%, in fact, of the food ads children see are for unhealthy food products and these ads are increasingly sophisticated. Companies are making money off selling products to young people that are harmful for their health.

This is wrong and it has to stop. Just as we have done with big tobacco companies in severely restricting advertising of their products, we must do the same with big food companies that are irresponsibly marketing junk food to young children.

While the ban on junk food aimed at children is an important first step, it is not enough. We cannot have a conversation about ensuring that our kids are getting proper nutrition without talking about poverty. Poverty makes it so much more difficult for families to make the healthy food choices they would like to make but are unable to because of the lack of money.

I recall a story. As a young early childhood educator, when we instituted a no-junk-food lunch policy, a mother shared with me that it was cheaper for her to buy a bag of cookies that lasts two weeks than a bag of apples that lasts a week.

We cannot talk about healthy food choices without addressing issues of poverty, especially in this affordability crisis we are living in, with persistently high grocery prices. Far too many people simply cannot afford healthy food to sustain a balanced diet. Eating healthy is expensive and preparing healthy meals can also be very time-consuming.

When one is working two or three jobs to make ends meet, which is not uncommon in this country, particular with the affordability crisis, time becomes a luxury one cannot afford, leading one to choose convenience foods that are quick and cheap but unhealthy.

I see it in my own riding of Winnipeg Centre, which has the highest child poverty rate of any riding in the country.

Too many kids are going to school on an empty stomach. Families are choosing between groceries and rent. Food banks are reporting record usage, and the temporary pandemic benefits that kept families afloat have expired and have not been maintained. Poverty is a form of economic violence. I have likened choosing to keep people poor to one of the worst human rights violations, and poverty is something that is faced by many of my constituents, including children, which robs them of the best possible start in life.

That is wrong, and it is a direct result of deliberate policy choices.

I believe we need to make different choices to eliminate poverty and ensure that every child gets the nutritious food they need. It is a choice, and the lack of political will to eradicate poverty, especially for children, is unacceptable. One of these choices is implementing a national school food program. Providing every child with healthy school meals would be a game-changer that would go a long way towards improving nutrition in this country.

It is long past time for us to put such a program in place. Canada remains the only G7 country without a national school food program or national standards. In 2019, the Liberals promised in their federal budget to work towards implementing a program, but after four years, they have still not delivered.

I call upon the government to keep its promise and finally allocate funding for a national school food program in the upcoming federal budget. It would make a profound difference in the lives of children, including many children in my own riding of Winnipeg Centre, whose learning is harmed because they are not getting the healthy food they need. I am a former educator, and in my classroom I had a toaster, bread and other food, which I bought with my teaching salary as a classroom management program because I knew the kids in my classroom could not learn or stay focused on an empty stomach.

Another choice is introducing a guaranteed livable basic income for all people in Canada. Yesterday, on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, I joined Senator Kim Pate in support of her bill, Bill S-233, and my own bill, Bill C-223, the national framework for a guaranteed livable basic income act, at a press conference. In its study of Bill S-233, the Senate Standing Committee on National Finance heard overwhelming support from experts and advocates for the social, economic and health benefits that a guaranteed livable basic income would provide.

Providing a guaranteed livable basic income is an idea whose time has come because we know the pandemic revealed the deep cracks in our social safety net, and those cracks remain. In every corner of this country, the human rights of people living below the poverty line are violated on a daily basis. I have called poverty one of the most violent human rights violations, one that robs people of their dignity and their humanity. In one of the wealthiest countries in the world, no one should be forced to sleep in tents, on the streets or in bus shelters. By providing everyone over the age of 17 who needs it with an unconditional cash transfer, a guaranteed livable basic income would lift millions of people out of poverty.

Poverty is expensive. In fact, poverty costs our country at least $80 billion a year. It costs our health care system, and one of the benefits of GLBI would be improving just that.

To conclude, I want to thank the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel for introducing the bill. I call on all members to support it, and I call on all members to support measures, including a national school food program and a guaranteed livable basic income, which would ensure no child in this country is ever hungry again.

May 18th, 2023 / 5:35 p.m.
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Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

I have a solution. I have a bill, Bill C-223, to put in place a guaranteed livable basic income. When we're talking about agency, I'll be ramping up my campaign, FYI.

Do you think a guaranteed livable basic income is important if we're really going to deal with the issue of human trafficking head-on? It's a yes-or-no answer.

March 30th, 2023 / 4:30 p.m.
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Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Thank you so much, Chair.

I have another quick question for Ieesha.

I put forward a bill for a guaranteed livable basic income. It's Bill C-223.

We're talking about sex trafficking and protecting women, girls and gender-diverse folks from being sex trafficked. Give me a yes or no. Would a guaranteed livable basic income be a tool of prevention?

Guaranteed Basic IncomeStatements By Members

March 29th, 2023 / 2:15 p.m.
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Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, seniors across Canada are facing significant challenges. I hear from seniors, largely single women, who are struggling to make ends meet. They cannot afford housing, basic food, medication and heat. Almost 600,000 Canadian senior women are living in poverty. Far too many of those women are further marginalized because of who they are: indigenous, Black, persons of colour and those from the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Others are widows of veterans who married their spouse of after 60 years of age and are left without a pension because of a sexist, outdated gold-diggers clause.

In Canada, we should have a guaranteed livable basic income, as Bill C-223 by my friend, the member for Winnipeg Centre, would do. It is an amount that would would allow no one in this country to fall below the bar of basic dignity.

Canadians must ask themselves about the expense of abandoning those most in need and of their suffering. It is time to do better for seniors.

March 27th, 2023 / 11:40 a.m.
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Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Thank you.

I have a very quick question for a yes-or-no answer from all the witnesses.

I introduced Bill C-223 to put in place a guaranteed livable basic income. Whether you support the rights of sex workers or not, I think we can all agree that a guaranteed livable basic income, in addition to affordable, accessible housing with rent geared to income, would help wherever you stand with this situation.

Yes or no, would a guaranteed livable basic income be a foundational piece to address this?

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

March 23rd, 2023 / 11:35 a.m.
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Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I am so pleased to rise in the House today. Before I begin, I will mention that I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton Griesbach.

We talk about budgets, and I hear rhetoric in the House almost on a daily basis about how people from coast to coast are struggling to make ends meet, with a particular reference to single mothers. The story of the single mother is consistently usurped in this House without real solutions to tackle issues of poverty and inequality in this country.

I actually was a single mom, as I have mentioned in the House. When I first had my son, I was one of the people we talk about in the House. I was not a single mom at the time, but I had just graduated from university and I was poor. The only thing that kept a roof over our heads at the time and allowed me to feed my son was affordable housing with rent geared to income and social assistance. I had just given birth to my child, and my partner at the time had employment that did not pay the bills, so I needed to get help.

I share this today because I often find that in this place these stories are taken by people who have never had lived experience with struggling to make ends meet or struggling to feed their kids. I share today, with my head held high, that I was one of those folks. It is an experience that allows me to understand that things are more difficult in life than a person picking themselves up by their bootstraps so they can survive.

Very often things are much more complicated in the lives of individuals and families, and they were for me at the time. I consider myself a well-educated person. It certainly was not about a lack of intelligence or hard work. It was just a matter of the circumstances of life at the time.

I share this because we are still coming out of a global pandemic that has impacted families from coast to coast, a pandemic that has left families more economically vulnerable than we have seen in a long time. We had programs put in place during the pandemic that kept food on the table, I would argue. We had CERB.

Now, as we move in another direction in real time, the current government is not going after big corporations to pay their fair share of the pandemic. It is not going after the billionaire class to pay their fair share of the pandemic. It is not going after big CEOs to pay their fair share of the pandemic. Do members know who it is going after? It is low-income parents to get money from the monies they collected from CERB, knowing that costs for families were drastically impacted during the pandemic.

That is unacceptable, and who is the most impacted by it? It is single mothers with multiple children. We are talking about housing and supporting families. This is going to leave a lot of families on the verge of falling into the streets.

Going back to my story, I was very fortunate at the time that I had affordable housing with rent geared to income. It allowed me to keep food on the table when food did not cost as much. That is not the reality right now, which is why the NDP has called on the current government to put in place CERB amnesty for low-income families in particular. The process the government is using could result in families being at greater risk of precarious housing and being placed in deeper levels of poverty. We know that people who were already behind before the pandemic are further behind now.

We need to stop poor-bashing in this place. We need to stop the simplified discussions about how to deal with the growing poverty crisis that impacts my riding of Winnipeg Centre, Manitoba, which was just reported to have some of the highest child poverty rates in the country.

Children are supposed to be provided with minimum human rights. We have signed on to international law. We have an obligation to uphold international and domestic laws to ensure that children are provided with basic human rights, which are being violated every day, whether in urban centres, first nations communities, indigenous communities or Inuit communities across the country.

I hope all my colleagues in the House will support the call for a CERB amnesty for low-income families, which, again, are the most impacted. If we are so concerned about the story of the single mother, it will be single mothers with multiple children who will be most impacted. That, for me, as the member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre, is a true test of this so-called care I hear about in this place all the time. We must have CERB amnesty now.

The NDP also put forward a dental care plan, a universal pharmacare plan, and has been fighting for a national child care strategy that prioritizes public, not-for-profit care. We have been working with frontline advocates and organizations for almost 30 years to push that forward.

I am glad the current government finally heeded our call to implement a national child care strategy. This would have made a difference in my life and the life of my son. We talk about people working multiple jobs to pay the bills. I was one of those single moms who had to work multiple jobs to pay the bills. Part of the reason for that was because of high child care costs. I literally had to work more so I could work.

If members of the House want to support families, then they need to support a universal dental care plan, universal pharmacare and a national child care strategy that ensures that all children are afforded their minimum human right to have access to affordable, accessible, high-quality child care. These services are essential for supporting families, as is the addition of affordable housing with rents geared to income and my bill, Bill C-223, to put in place a guaranteed livable basic income.

I want to build a Canada where families are not begging to eat, where we do not make the assumption we are all born with the same privileges, where nobody is living in poverty, and where we stop poor-bashing and deal with what is going on in our country at the very roots of inequality. We can do that as members in the House.

Therefore, today, I call on all members of the House to support the NDP's call, and certainly my bill for a guaranteed livable basic income, and build a Canada for all.