Ontario shouldn’t make life harder for the poorest

The Star

A year after Doug Ford broke his first election promise by axing the province’s basic income pilot project, the future remains uncertain for Ontarians struggling to make ends meet.

The three-year, $150-million experiment was studying whether unconditional cash payments are a better way to support vulnerable workers and improve health and education outcomes for people living in poverty, including those on social assistance.

With a sample size of 4,000 adults in three test sites — Hamilton-Brant, Thunder Bay and Lindsay — and another 2,000 acting as a control group, it was one of the largest and well-designed studies of its kind.

At a time when Western democracies are grappling with rising populism, technological change and the growing gap between rich and poor, researchers and policy-makers around the world were eagerly awaiting the results.

But last July 31, barely a year after it began, the Ford government cancelled the initiative, claiming it was a waste of taxpayers’ money to study an idea the province could never afford. Now we will never know, as there will be no facts to get in the way of this argument.

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