Ontario PC voter worried about family's future without basic income pilot

CBC News

Ontario's new Progressive Conservative government announced on Tuesday it is winding down a basic income pilot project, breaking an election promise not to scrap the program that was brought in by the Liberals.

Single people in the pilot were getting up to $17,000 a year. For couples it was $24,000 — with few strings attached. 

The idea was to study how the money affected people living on very low incomes, or provincial support programs. It was set to last three years. But just 15 months in, it's over. 

Andrew Shaver lives in Thunder Bay and he was part of the initiative. 

Shaver spoke to As It Happens guest host Piya Chattopadhyay about how he and his family will manage without the financial support from the provincial government. 

Here is part of their conversation. 

Mr. Shaver what was your reaction when you heard that Ontario's basic income pilot program is being cancelled?

I was shocked and angered — and kind of bewildered, as well. Because when a government program says that this is guaranteed for three years, and people start building their lives around that and counting on it, you don't expect that that's something that can or should be able to be revoked.

So, in your circumstance, how much extra money were you getting each month through this program?

Just under a $1000 a month.

And how did that help you?

Prior to the program, I was just about breaking even — like paying all my bills and having nothing left over at the end of every month. So, on one level, it eased the stress of finances quite a bit.

But it also allowed me to save. It allowed me to pay down some of my mortgage and it allowed me to help better support my wife, who is disabled and in the hospital in Hamilton right now.

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