The cancellation of Ontario’s basic income project is a tragedy

The Conversation

The cancellation of Ontario’s basic income project not only violates our obligation as a society to ensure economic security for all. It also breaches the ethical obligations we have to those participating in research, and underscores the need for a multi-faceted research methodology in designing better income security programs.

The new Conservative government in Ontario led by Doug Ford has cancelled the Ontario Basic Income Pilot – an initiative of the former Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne.

The pilot promised a comparison of those receiving a monthly basic income in test sites in three areas of Ontario with those who did not. The research was aimed at ascertaining “whether a basic income helps people living on low incomes better meet their basic needs and improve their education, housing, employment and health.”

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Health Unit urges Province to reverse basic income cancellation

The local Health Unit is strongly urging the Ontario government to reverse course and at least see the Basic Income Guarantee through to the end of its original three-year pilot phase.

A letter containing this message has been sent to the provincial government on behalf of the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge (HKPR) Board of Health, which in 2016 endorsed a position statement calling for a Basic Income Guarantee pilot program in Ontario. The position statement cited the fact that eliminating poverty is an urgent public health issue, as people on low income are more likely to have health problems and die younger than people with higher income.

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Hamilton council votes to denounce province's cancellation of basic income project

CBC News

Hamilton City Council has voted in favour of officially denouncing the provincial government's decision to cancel Ontario's basic income pilot project.

The vote was unanimous, despite concerns from one councillor that the move could harm the city's "somewhat tenuous relationship" with the new Ford government.

Ward 12 Councillor Lloyd Ferguson said what worries him is that council's move "won't change the province's mind."

"It's politically right, but is it right for our relationship with the province?" he asked, adding that criticizing a decision the government made over something that's clearly their jurisdiction could "annoy them."

​But Ward 4 Councillor, Sam Merulla, who brought the motion, said the denunciation isn't about bothering the government, it's about sending a signal that Hamilton won't condone any attacks on the city's most vulnerable.

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Hamilton's basic income participants plead for city to fight for them

CBC News

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.

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Years of compromise scuttled by chopping basic income pilot

The Province

In a move likely designed to rattle a few cages this summer, the provincial government’s decision to chop the basic income pilot project came across as a cold reversal of a campaign promise that said the opposite.

The basic income guarantee has been around as a concept for decades, but after years of research and a growing civil society movement, it became reality in Ontario in the form of test projects in three regions in the province.

The basic income guarantee is anything but simple, but as issues like unemployment and poverty, mental illness and disabilities have grown more pronounced in recent years, the concept of creating an income floor to help those families overcome problems governments or corporations seemed unable to solve grew in support. 

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Basic income participants share their stories at Queen’s Park

Hamilton Spectator

A busload of Hamilton basic income program participants and community advocates travelled to Queen's Park Wednesday in search of answers after the PC government announced last week the pilot project would be scrapped.

While the group did not learn what's next for the close to 1,000 Hamilton residents affected by the cancellation, Tom Cooper of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction said the visit was productive because it offered a chance for people to meet with MPPs, share their stories and have their voices heard.

"People are unsure about the future," he said.

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PCs say basic income too costly if expanded to all Ontario

Roderick Benns

Minister of Labour Laurie Scott says there were “too many concerns” about the Ontario Basic Income Pilot to let it go on — but then also noted if it were successful it would have been too expensive to implement Ontario-wide.

Scott, who was responding to questions provided by the Lindsay Advocate, made the seemingly contradictory remarks in her emailed response, although she wasn’t the only one. The lead minister on this file, Lisa MacLeod, said the same thing yesterday, in an effort to stem the growing pressure to see the decision reversed.

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