Poverty reduction report in Thunder Bay, Ont., shows impact of basic income cancellation
Basic income pilot scrapped by Ontario government, last cheques sent out in March
City councillors in Thunder Bay, Ont., heard how the cancellation of the province's basic income pilot project is having an impact on some of the poorest people in the city.
The Lakehead Social Planning Council (LSPC) gave council a basic profile of those who are most affected by poverty, which the report said tend to be Indigenous people, women and those between the ages of 30 and 49.
While the report gave many facts and figures on how many people in the city are affected by poverty, it also offered some solutions.
"Tiny homes, garden suites, granny suites, whatever you want to call them," said Bonnie Krysowaty, a social researcher at the LSPC.
She said one big driver for those in need, is housing.
As for the basic income project, Marie Klassen, the director of the LSPC, said it opened up a new way of life for those who took part in the program.
Klassen said she thought of one person, a participant in the program, who, "was finally able to buy a winter coat, on sale, at a normal store; normally she was shopping at the thrift stores."
"This was the first time in her life that she was able to buy a coat off the rack."
Klassen also asked council, in a move to help reduce poverty, to adopt the concept of a living wage for city employees, as well as to set an example for private businesses.
The wage, of $16.05 an hour, according to the LSPC, would allow a family to live with all of its basic needs, such as food, utilities, rent and transportation covered, while also allowing for a small entertainment budget.
Klassen said the city should also show its support to agencies and organizations working on behalf of those in poverty.
Council asked administration to prepare a report on how it could tailor city-run programs to help those in poverty.
Administration noted it is already looking at approval for small, detached homes, which would offer an alternate supply of housing in the city.