Thunder Bay·Audio

'Something called a job' is the way out of poverty, not basic income, Ford says

Ontario's premier said Thursday cancelling the basic income pilot project was a "simple" matter of saving money.

Premier says in Thunder Bay that the basic income pilot was too expensive

Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks at the Resolute Forest Products pulp and paper mill in Thunder Bay on Thursday. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

Ontario Premier Doug Ford made a stop today in Thunder Bay. It follows his stop in White River at the new Harte Gold Mine on Wednesday. Today, Ford was at the Resolute Forest Products Mill in Thunder Bay, touting how his government will help forestry in the north. But, the provincial government had nothing to do with the actual investment touted by the forestry giant. Resolute will sink $40 million into its three sawmills across the northwest, and pulp and paper mill in Thunder Bay. All of the money, $53.5 million in total, is from the company - not a cent from the province. So, reporters had the chance to ask Ford about why he was here today, and also a number of other northern issues. Here's what he said to reporters, including the CBC's Jeff Walters. 6:21

Ontario's premier said Thursday cancelling the basic income pilot project was a "simple" matter of saving money.

"It was very simple, it cost $17 billion dollars," Doug Ford said during an appearance at the Resolute Forest Products pulp and paper mill. "It's not realistic."

"The best way to help people out of poverty is something called a job," he said. "A good paying job."

Ford's appearance on Thursday drew protests from people against the early cancellation of the basic income pilot; Thunder Bay was one of the three communities to participate in the three-year project. The PC government announced this summer it would end the project early, in March 2019.

The program was started under the previous Liberal government, which said the cost for the pilot was $150 million over three years.

However, when the PCs took power, they pegged the cost at $17 billion a year if it was expanded to the entire province.

Ford was in Thunder Bay to announce an investment of more than $53 million into Resolute's northwestern Ontario operation, including the Thunder Bay mill.

No provincial money

However, none of that money is provincial; it's all being put forward by Resolute Forest Products, part of a budgetary process that goes back a few years, long before the PCs formed the provincial government.

Ford said his appearance at the mill was about building relationships, and letting the "people of Thunder Bay and Resolute know we're behind them."

"They've been fighting so many regulations and bureaucracy over the years,' Ford said. "We're here to say we're behind you, we support you, we're building a relationship, and that's what I think the most important thing is."

A sign welcoming Ontario Premier Doug Ford hangs outside the Resolute Forest Products pulp and paper mill in Thunder Bay on Thursday. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

Ford said he'd eliminate what he called "nasty" barriers in the mining and forestry sectors.

"Who are better stewards in their own industry than these folks, than Resolute and companies like Resolute, that want to make sure that we have a thriving forestry business?" Ford said. "When the government gets involved in business, they get in the way of business to thrive."

'Green energy scam'

When asked about cancelling the Green Energy Act — which directly affects the Thunder Bay pulp and paper mill, which hosts a co-gen plant — Ford called it the "green energy scam."

"It was the biggest transfer of money from the poor and middle-class to the political insiders I've ever seen," Ford said. "Ever, in the history of Canada."

He called the carbon tax the "worst tax ever," and the cap-and-trade "terrible, too."

Ford said the government will fight the carbon tax "all the way up to the Supreme Court."

Ford did say the government is open to talking to the Thunder Bay police about funding to combat guns and gangs in the city, and that the PCs are "working on" completing the four-laning of the highway between Thunder Bay and Nipigon.

"You'll hear from our minister of transportation over the next week or so," he said.