Long before Covid-19 hit, faith in capitalism was faltering. The global recession of 2008 highlighted the growing gulf between the haves and the have-nots in developed economies. Soon after, the rise of China’s state-managed economy challenged the hegemony of unconstrained free markets.
In the United States, the surging pandemic has sent inequality into overdrive. American billionaires have grown 20 percent richer, as unemployment has soared to record levels. It remains to be seen just how much of this cognitive dissonance the system can sustain before spinning into total chaos.
In February 2018, Jessie Golem, a freelance photographer in Hamilton, found out she’d been selected to participate in Ontario’s basic income pilot project. She felt like she won the lottery. The three-year pilot, launched by the Wynne government, was meant to provide 4,000 low-income individuals in Hamilton, Lindsay and Thunder Bay with a maximum of $16,989 per year per person (or $24,027 per couple).Read more
Nearly half of the thousands of Ontarians collecting basic income reported severe food insecurity.
In the baseline survey, 48.4 per cent reported experiencing severe food insecurity. Survey comments made to the Basic Income Canada Network indicated that the higher quality food recipients were able to purchase while on the pilot improved their lives — sometimes dramatically.Read more
On the May day they learned they had been accepted into the province’s basic income pilot project, the Hamilton couple cried.
“I just felt like after so long of everything just constantly going wrong and having the worst kind of luck that we finally had something go right,” said Dan Weiss.
He and partner Justine Taylor were “desperate” after both lost “what little work” they had, getting behind on bills and rent and, to top it all off, finding out they were expecting a baby — a little brother for nine-year-old Julia.Read more
Hamilton City Council has voted in favour of officially denouncing the provincial government's decision to cancel Ontario's basic income pilot project.
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
The following is the text of a speech given at the recent North American basic income congress, held in Hamilton. The author's first name is Jodi, and we are withholding her last name at her request.
You don't understand the feeling of shame until you have to call a family member to help you get to the hospital with your child because you don't have the money to park, cab or the ability to take a bus with a broken child.
I was a single mom to three amazing kids for many years: Two of them with special needs.
I was married and lived a comfortable middle-class life. We chose for me to stay home and be a full-time mom.Read more
James Collura is receiving a basic income through the Ontario Basic Income Pilot Program, in Hamilton. He has been using it in a way that serves his community. Journalist Roderick Benns interviews Collura on exactly how – and why – he is using his new income floor in this way.
Benns: How did you find yourself in the position you were in so that you were able to begin receiving basic income?
Collura: I studied economics at McMaster and graduated with a BA. Like most students in my program, I realized my education didn't exactly qualify me to be an economist or execute any valuable job-skill. I ended up working as a teller at a bank, where I found the most valuable aspect of my job was the personal interactions I had everyday. Meeting new characters, discovering their needs, witnessing their spending habits and lifestyles, and getting to know people from all walks of life. I had a big interest in the future of technology, because at my age, I need to anticipate what’s to come - the future of jobs in an automated world. At the bank, I realized my job was quickly becoming 'app-ified', and my top assignment was to convert customers to 'digital banking'.Read more
The spotlight is shining on Hamilton's role in a three-year experiment where about 1,000 people in the city living in poverty will receive a no-strings attached base income.
Media reports on the basic income pilot project in Ontario have recently been published in the U.K. and U.S., and a correspondent from PBS NewsHour was in town this week to interview participants.
Attention may increase with the Basic Income Congress coming to the city in May.Read more