Each November the Niagara Community Foundation hosts a breakfast featuring a speaker who is a Canadian leader in social innovation. For 11 years we’ve been successful in achieving our goal of attracting an engaging speaker on a topical subject who is able to speak free of charge.

At the 2013 breakfast, we welcomed Senator Hugh Segal who spoke on basic guaranteed income. I first heard him speak about this topic in 2012 on TVO and vowed to find a way to entice him to speak to our group.

To our delight, Senator Segal gave one of the most informative, impassioned, interesting, and engaging presentations that those who attended our previous breakfasts had experienced. His remarks even included some light-hearted references to the Senate scandal in Ottawa. He held the audience’s attention well beyond the time that we normally allow for the speaker, and no one left the room during his presentation.

Thanks to Senator Segal’s convincing presentation, following the breakfast, a number of people expressed interest in continuing the conversation about the ideas he shared. As a result, we hosted two meetings in January, 2014, which were attended by a total of 25 people from all sectors in the community – business, government, education, for social profit and private citizens.

A common theme that emerged was that more education is needed to better understand the impact of a guaranteed annual income.  As a result, two things have been accomplished:

  1. Guaranteed annual income will be the topic of the 2014 annual forum of the Social Assistance Reform Network of Niagara (SARNN). The main forum presenter is Rob Rainer, Campaign Director of The Big Push Campaign. SARNN volunteers are finalizing the program for the event, which will be held the morning of April 29th in the council chambers at Niagara Region Headquarters.
  2. A body of ‘basic income’ resources was compiled, with all items now posted to the NKE:

Save the date for the April 29, 2014 SARNN forum! Registration details are available on the Niagara Community Calendar shortly. We look forward to continuing the conversation.

Liz Palmieri
Executive Director
Niagara Community Foundation

*photo coutesy of Bob Tymczyszyn//QMI Agency and The Standard

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