Thunder Bay

MPP Michael Gravelle fights to bring back basic income pilot project in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Thunder Bay- Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle says he's hopeful that the province's basic income pilot project can still be saved.

Gravelle has collected over 50 testimonials

MPP Gravelle said he's collected testimonials from those directly and indirectly affected by the abrupt and early cancellation of the basic income pilot project and plans to show them to Minister MacLeod to reverse the decision. (Matt Prokopchuk / CBC)

Thunder Bay- Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle says he's hopeful that the province's basic income pilot project can still be saved.

Gravelle said he made a Facebook post earlier this month asking for feedback from residents who have been "directly or indirectly affected" by the abrupt and early cancellation of the research project on August 1.

​"This has been a disastrous decision by the provincial government," Gravelle told CBC News, "I don't understand it and certainly based on the responses I've received ... the program needs to be maintained."

He said he's collected testimonials from more than 50 of the program's participants and have heard from residents with personal experience on how much this pilot project has made "a huge positive difference" in their lives.

"It has allowed people to for example, return to post-secondary education, to begin to build a career. Allowing themselves to truly have a hope of lifting themselves out of poverty," Gravelle said.

A resident with epilepsy in Thunder Bay has also been in contact with Gravelle to show him how much the basic pilot program has helped "improve his conditions" and reduce the number of seizures.

"This is a program that was making a very positive difference in people's live in terms of lifting them out of poverty, giving them an opportunity to build the life, give them dignity in their life once again at not a large cost to the public," Gravelle said.

In April 2017, Thunder Bay was chosen as one of the three cities to test the basic income pilot with guaranteed income for three years.

In late July, the province announced it was cancelling the pilot early as it was too expensive.

Gravelle said he spoke with the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa MacLeod and expressed his objection to the cancellation of the project. 

She advised him to collect personal stories and letters of examples from residents who have been affected and Gravelle has done just that.

"It was a three year research project [and] there's a need to let that program carry on," Gravelle said, "and I just want to continue to fight this fight to see that the decision by the provincial government is reversed."

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