Anti-poverty activists urge Ontario to focus on poverty reduction, not just basic income

Meagan Gillmore

Rabble

Anti-poverty activists in Ontario are calling the provincial government's announcement of a basic income pilot project for low-income adults a positive first step, but say more must be done to help people living in poverty.

"It's great that we've got a trial happening, but we can't let the government use this as a ploy to just sit on their tushes and wait for three years. There's desperate need for immediate action on welfare rates," said John Mills, a community activist with the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction.

The roundtable has no official position on basic income, but will be watching the project closely. The pilot is scheduled to begin in Hamilton, Brantford and Brant County, as well as Thunder Bay, later this spring. It will launch in Lindsay in the fall.

The government announced the details of the three-year pilot project late last month. The project will test if receiving a guaranteed basic income improves the quality of life for people who have low incomes.

On the pilot, a single person will be eligible to receive up to $16,989 per year; a couple $24,027. A person with a disability is eligible to receive an additional $6,000 per year. These amounts are 75 per cent of the Low Income Measure. Participants will continue to receive provincial and federal child-care benefits while on the program. Payments will be received monthly.

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