Provincial government defends move to axe basic income pilot project

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"That fake news that was in the news today totally mischaracterizes what we are doing", the minister for children, community and social services said during question period at Queen's Park on Thursday.

Though a party spokesperson stated during the lead up to the election that the Conservative government, if elected would continue the basic income trial, the officials have apparently changed their minds.

"It is a study that has put Ontario and Canada at the forefront of thinking about an issue that has gained a lot of attention worldwide", said McKenzie, the previous Liberal government's research adviser on the project. "The price of gas going down is not going to make a difference to them", Garvey said.

About 247,000 people are on Ontario Works (which is aimed at people who could be employed but aren't) and about 372,000 are on the Ontario Disability Support Program (for people who have disabilities that prevent them from working).

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While Regehr doesn't think Ottawa should be bailing Ford out, "if he really refuses and will not budge, participants in this pilot shouldn't suffer", she said.

The devastating refrain underpinning all of these stories was best summed up by Lindsay resident Catherine Webb Widjedal, who wrote to The Lindsay Advocate to say that the people she knew receiving basic income were "hard working people in low-paying jobs", who had "planned the next three years of their lives on this monthly money".

"I'm pleased their implementing the 1.5 per cent to help keep pace with inflation", Nadeau said.

However, program participants are mostly angry and disheartened.

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"I live with a person with a disability day-to-day and I'm involved in it through advocacy and it's still hard for me to understand the varying life situations of people in Ontario", she said.

Bob Bratina, the former Hamilton mayor and Liberal MP for Hamilton-East Stoney Creek, said he also felt for constituents who would be suffering as a result of the provincial move.

The pilot was introduced to test whether a basic income can better support vulnerable workers, improve health and education outcomes for people on low incomes, and help ensure that everyone shares in Ontario's economic growth. Single people in this program could receive up to $16 989 per year, whereas pair - $24 027.

The government has not offered a timeline for the "winding down" of the pilot project or the implementation of a new equivalent program other than the promised 100 days.

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The group predicted the government's pledge to reform social assistance was nothing but a thinly veiled return to cuts brought in by former Tory premier Mike Harris, and vowed to oppose what it called Premier Doug Ford's "war on the poor". "Cancel pending and promising pilot project on basic income, is a waste and a shame".