One by one, participants in the province's basic income pilot project came to the microphone at Hamilton City Hall Wednesday to mourn the dignity they felt was robbed from them after the program was unceremoniously scrapped.
Some spoke about how their mental health had vastly improved while the program was running. Others talked about how it helped them focus on work, and growing a small business. Still others celebrated the small victories of being able to buy fresh food, or just see a movie.
For Michael Hampson, the program afforded him something as simple as being able to buy new clothes.
"They make me feel special. It's like my Sunday clothes every day now," Hampson told councillors at the city's healthy and safe communities committee.
"It makes me feel dignified, even when society didn't see my dignity."
But now, questions swirl about his newfound quality of life. Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod announced late last month that the province would be "winding down" the program — which one researcher says is happening before any results could be gleaned from it, making it impossible to determine whether or not it was a success.
MacLeod has not given a timeline for the program to end. The news has spurred backlash from the opposition parties, who say the government is cutting support from those who need it most.
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