Basic income pilot cancellation 'disappointing,' Thunder Bay MPP says
PC government announced cancellation on Tuesday
The MPP for Thunder Bay-Superior North says the cancellation of the ongoing basic income pilot project is a "major disappointment."
Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa MacLeod announced on Tuesday afternoon the program was being cut, saying it was expensive.
"I know people that are on the basic income pilot that are having improved lives as a result of it, and obviously this was a three-year pilot and we needed to look at it over a three-year period," Thunder Bay-Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle said Tuesday. "It something that I think was more than worthy of testing out over that three-year period, and could've made a real difference in the long-term social assistance process."
"I'm rather shocked by it."
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Thunder Bay was one of three Ontario cities chosen to participate in the basic income pilot. Thunder Bay had a maximum enrolment of 2,000 people, with some getting basic income payments, and some being assigned to a comparison group that would help to measure the effectiveness of the program.
"I don't believe that they had any data," Gravelle said. "It started just about a year ago."
"I think this is short-sighted thinking by the government."
MacLeod also announced a 1.5 per cent increase to Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program rates (during their last budget, Ontario's previous Liberal government pledged a three per cent increase to those rates).
More details, new plan coming
MacLeod didn't have details as to how and when the basic income pilot will actually end, saying those details would be coming later.
During the 2018 Ontario election campaign, a PC party spokeswoman said the program would continue if the PCs formed government.
She said the government would develop and announce a new, "sustainable" social assistance program within 100 days.
Gravelle said he took issue with how the PC government announced the changes on Tuesday.
"They didn't really consult with anybody, I don't believe," he said. "I think they just simply made the decision. That's how they seem to be announcing things over the first weeks of their time in office."
He said he'll speak with MacLeod as soon as possible.