Ontario basic income project was working: NDP MPP
Ontario conservative government announced early end to pilot project
The abrupt and early cancellation of Ontario's basic income pilot project is a "waste" and a "shame," a Thunder Bay MPP said, especially given the fact that the program was making a difference in the lives of participants.
The Ontario conservative government's Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa MacLeod announced Tuesday the program will be cut, citing its cost.
Thunder Bay was one of the cities participating in the three-year pilot.
"We were very disappointed, because during the election the Progressive Conservative candidates were saying that they would see the basic income pilot through to its finish, and then analyze it," said NDP MPP Judith Monteith-Farrell (Thunder Bay-Atikokan).
"Cancelling it is just a waste," she said. "It's a shame. And we know in Thunder Bay what a difference it made in peoples' lives."
The pilot project started in April 2017, and was expected to run for three years to determine how effective providing a basic income to those living on low incomes would be.
Under the pilot, a single person could have received up to about $17,000 a year, minus half of any income he or she earned. A couple could have received up to $24,000 per year, and people with disabilities could have received an additional $6,000.
Pilot was working
Monteith-Farrell said she's heard directly from participants about the program's effectiveness.
"It was incredible," she said. "Even during the campaign, going door-to-door, I had people say ... this had made such a difference in my life."
"Not having to use food banks as often, having that little bit of extra money to ensure their comfort, everyone that was on it was very happy, and it was working for them."
The government also announced Tuesday it would bump Ontario Works and Ontario by 1.5 per cent. The previous Liberal government's last budget pledged a three per cent increase.
"Inflation is 2.5 per cent, so that means that people will not get enough to even keep up with the cost of living," Monteith-Farrell said.
The government also said Tuesday it would develop and announce a new, "sustainable" social assistance program within 100 days.
No details available
No further details were available about either the new program, nor how and when the basic income pilot project will be ended. Monteith-Farrell said not only did the MacLeod not have those details, but reporters were unable to actively ask questions during Tuesday's announcement.
"When media was trying to ask for details ... Ford staffers were there clapping loudly, drowning out media questions," she said. "They don't seem to want to answer questions."
Monteith-Farrell said the NDP will attempt to get more details from the government during Question Period.