Basic income participants are being left to ‘kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight’

Deidre Pike - Hamilton Spectator

I shared a sacred moment with a stranger this week. We stood together as the Earth rolled toward the Sun, allowing for rays of light to beckon pink and blue hues across the sky and become the new day. We witnessed this spectacle together in Lindsay, where we met behind the Days Inn and Suites.

While it was still dark we sipped our beverages and talked about our lives and the paths that brought us to this place. Corey lives in Mitchell and usually does his barn building work — installing trough, feed, and ventilation systems — closer to home. He lives with his partner who is pregnant with the first child they're bringing into the world together, and three other children he is proud to co-parent.

When I ask if he enjoys his work he hesitates ever so briefly before pronouncing a surprised but confident "yes!" He's been in Lindsay now for three weeks though, living in a hotel with a bunch of other guys doing work away from home. He's happy to get back on the weekends to live his family life and do some home cooking.

I tell him I'm in town, in large part, because of the Basic Income Pilot Project (BIPP). He hadn't heard of it. I explain how the previous provincial government under former premier Kathleen Wynne, had responded to the reality of a changing economy including automation, precarious employment and a punitive social assistance system, by testing a basic income. It was to lift people up over three years with a base economic floor, $17,000 for singles and $24,000 for couples.

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