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.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
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.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
For the first time in many years, Lance Dingman has food in his freezer.
Dingman, from Hamilton in Ontario, Canada, lost one of his legs in 1988 as a result of a bone infection and now has a prosthetic; he has also struggled with his mental health. He used to receive a disability benefit, but the amount was so low as to leave him no way out of poverty. Today Dingman, 56, is paid C$1,900 (£1,080) per month under the city’s basic income pilot project – and he says the difference is life-changing.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
By Ron Hikel and Rob Rainer - Huffington Post
On June 7, Ontarians will elect a new legislature at Queen's Park. Recent pollingsuggests that the Progressive Conservatives could receive 44 per cent of the vote, the Liberals 26 per cent, the NDP 23 per cent, and other parties combined seven per cent. If so, the PCs would form a government and the Liberals would be the Official Opposition — swapping their current positions.
However, stark party policy differences suggest the Ontario election could yet be up for grabs. In the balance, among other things, is whether the Ontario Basic Income Pilot Project survives a potential change in government. With the PCs likely to run on a "save taxpayer money" message, with the pilot costing $50 million a year, and with the misguided notion that it is but a "crazy experiment" in "paying some people tens of thousands of dollars not to work," the pilot may be at notable risk should the PCs prevail at the polls.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
The Lindsay Advocate
A Lindsay woman who has been receiving a basic income for the past three months says her life has taken a turn for the better – including an improvement in her mental health.
Barb Munro was on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) for depression and mental illness, before deciding to apply for basic income a few months ago under the new pilot set up by the Province.
Since her acceptance into the program, it has doubled her income to just over $1,800 a month.
“Even mentally I feel better,” says Munro, “because I know I still have some money in my bank account” later in the month.Read more
The new and innovative social program that Ontario is testing in Lindsay and two other Ontario centres – a ‘basic income guarantee’ — is surging in participant numbers.
According to Ministry spokesperson, Matt Ostergard, the Lindsay Advocate has learned that as of the end of January there were 2,544 participants across the three pilot locations of Lindsay, Thunder Bay, and Hamilton and Brant County.
The Province is looking for those numbers to be capped at 4,000 participants, meaning there is less than 1,500 people left to sign up. However, 2,000 of those participants will be from Lindsay, making it the linchpin in studying how receiving a higher income will affect people’s lives and the community as a whole.Read more