Ford government scrapping Ontario basic income pilot project

DENIS BALIBOUSE  REUTERS  Newscom

Lisa MacLeod, Ontario Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.

In the interim, the government will provide increase support rates for people on Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program by 1.5%, which is significantly lower than what was previously promised by the Liberals.

But Ontario just ousted the Liberal Party and elected a new Progressive Conservative government, and the new regime had other ideas.

She says the governing Tories will set a 100-day deadline to come up with a new social assistance program that will help people break the cycle of poverty and get back in the workforce.

MacLeod said the government will provide "more details at a later date" about how it will end the Ontario basic income pilot project.

"It's reprehensible, reprehensibly irresponsible to announce the end of the pilot without thinking those things through about how they're going to wind up the program and how they are going to support people", she said, "This is the government taking a political course of action without thinking things through the ramifications [for] these real people who have huge stresses in their lives now".

The government announced Tuesday it was "winding down" the project and cutting a planned three per cent increase in social assistance to 1.5 per cent - the first steps in its plan to revamp the social assistance system.

When pressed on why the program was being cancelled, MacLeod responded only that it was not going to be sustainable.

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About 247,000 people are on Ontario Works (which is aimed at people who could be employed but aren't) and about 372,000 are on the Ontario Disability Support Program (for people who have disabilities that prevent them from working).

"The people that we serve, the most vulnerable people in Ontario, don't have cars".

While Regehr doesn't think Ottawa should be bailing Ford out, "if he really refuses and will not budge, participants in this pilot shouldn't suffer", she said.

"I'm disappointed and upset", Knoll said. That is not the cost of the three-year pilot, but the cost of a province-wide basic income program, a spokeswoman for the minister's office told HuffPost Canada in an email. The point of the pilot project has been to see how costs and outcomes compare to the existing system in larger and smaller Ontario communities.

"Look, what I'm announcing today is about restoring dignity to Ontarians". A single person could receive up to $16,989 a year and a couple could get up to $24,027 annually. "It's possible there may even be an increase in demand for social assistance because of it".

She pointed out that the government has plans to cut electricity prices, has scrapped the price on carbon emissions and will cut gasoline taxes, all of which means more money in people's pockets.

He's one of many who work in the sector across Ontario and feel the same way.

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