Ford government scrapping basic income pilot project

Ontario's Children Community and Social Services Minister Lisa Macleod attends Question Period at Queen's Park in Toronto on Tuesday

The Ford government is working on a plan to reform Social Assistance so that it can help more people break the cycle of poverty, re-enter the workforce and get back on track.

The province's first steps will be to cancel the previous government's plan to raise Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Works rates by three per cent and raise them by 1.5 per cent instead, said MacLeod, adding the decision was made "on compassionate grounds".

The basic income pilot project, which launched last year and was set to run for three years, provided payments to 4,000 low-income people in communities including Hamilton, Brantford, Thunder Bay and Lindsay.

Sue Garvey, executive director of Cornerstone Housing for Women, said lowering the increase could mean approximately $20 to $30 less per month for people in need of direct support. "That fake news that was in the news today totally mischaracterizes what we're doing", she said.

Single participants receive up to $16,989 a year while couples receive up to $24,027, less 50% of any earned income.

"And cancelling the unfinished and promising basic income pilot project is a waste and a shame". "Spending more money on a broken program wasn't going to help anyone", Lisa MacLeod, the Ontario minister responsible for social services, told reporters Tuesday.

"And our efforts to fix social assistance will go hand-in-hand with our commitments to reduce gas prices by 10% litre, lower hydro rates, and provide targeted tax relief for working parents and minimum wage earners, all of which will provide focused benefits to lower income families".

In a supplied backgrounder, the government states it will "wind down" the Ontario basic income pilot project. When pressed several times she said "we had a platform and this was not in the platform". In Silicon Valley in particular, many have championed basic income as the answer to the question of how society should deal with large-scale job automation-but real-world data on whether such a program is even a good idea has been lacking. Numerous program's participants seemed shocked and frustrated to learn that their monetary plan for the next three years was being thrown out the window.

In a TVO panel on health care the Green Party says now deputy premier Christine Elliott confirmed that her party would keep the pilot program.

"It's not just about money, it's about security", she said.

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