'Blind ideology' behind cancellation of basic income pilot

Kitchener Post

In the months since taking power, the current government seems to take the most joy in cancelling the initiatives of the previous one.

From things like the updating of the health education curriculum to Ontario’s green energy initiatives, if the previous government proposed it, then it must be destroyed.

It doesn’t matter the merits of the programs being cancelled. Some of the cancellations have been so reckless that Ontario taxpayers are now on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in cancellation fees and lawsuits.

You can see how reckless the government is in its cancellations in how thoughtless their explanations are for why the programs are being cancelled.

For instance, Premier Ford claims that increases to minimum wage and paid sick days for workers have led to widespread job losses has been thoroughly debunked.

But I want to focus on one of the reasons given for the cancellation of the basic income trial, shortly into its three-year mandate.

Basic Income is the proposal where we replace most of our social safety net – unemployment insurance, disability payments, old age security and so on – with a regular and universal payment that covers basic living costs.

Theoretically, everybody would get such a payment, and it would continue even if we got work (although it would be taxed back). We could depend on it when life sprang traps on us, like a job loss or sudden illness.

It’s a good idea in theory, but it has rarely been tested. A program in Manitoba in the 1970s showed promising results at addressing poverty. The test here, which would have cost $50 million per year, would have given us more up-to-date data.

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