Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Hamiltonians slam Ontario Premier Doug Ford for slashing basic income program

Ontario's Children Community and Social Services Minister Lisa Macleod attends Question Period at Queen's Park in Toronto on Tuesday Ford government announces social assistance overhaul
Lisa Bryan | 06 August, 2018, 07:22

Lisa MacLeod, Ontario's minister in charge of social services, cited the high costs of the project ($150 million in Canadian dollars) as the reason for the cuts and said it was "clearly not the answer for Ontario families".

Ontario's new government says it will bring in major changes to social assistance, starting with reducing a planned increase in disability support rates and cancelling a basic income pilot program.

In 100 days - by November 8 - the government will have a plan to "reform social assistance so it helps more people break the cycle of poverty, re-enter the workforce and get back on track", the news release accompanying MacLeod's presentation said.

Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner, meanwhile, said the basic income program had previously been touted by conservative economists, who saw it as a small-government solution to help people out of poverty.

"With a rate increase that doesn't match the rate of inflation, I can't imagine how people are going to survive", she said.

Instead of seeing the first of three three-per-cent increases in Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program payments this fall, she said at a Toronto news conference, recipients will get a 1.5-per-cent increase (in September for those on disability programs, in October for those on Ontario Works).

"It was certainly not going to be sustainable".


Reports of the program's effectiveness have not been released but the program operated on the theory that if individuals were provided with a steady, basic income it would increase their achievement in obtaining health care and education and helps them return to the workforce. "This decision applies not saving money, and fixes a broken system", she said.

Ontario's pilot project was launched in April 2017 and offered 4,000 low-income residents in three communities nearly $14,000 a year to individuals or $24,000 to couples, and an extra $6,000 for the disabled.

The pilot project began in April 2017 and expected to last three years.

However, program participants are mostly angry and disheartened. "And does the same intervention, which is a way of getting people out of poverty, work as well here as its worked in other places?' And now, I guess we'll never know", he said. Single persons under the plan could have received up to $17,000 per year, minus half of any income he/she earned.

That was reported as an admission of breaking the PC's campaign promise not to cancel the pilot.

The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, which had been critical of the project, said cancelling it only a year in "demonstrates a reckless disregard for the lives of almost 4,000 people.who planned their lives on the assurance of having a set income for three years".

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