Thunder Bay Newswatch
Ruth Westcott says Ontario’s now-cancelled basic income pilot project changed her life.
It’s why she’s helping to lead a grassroots effort to ensure the program is available not only in Ontario again, but across the country.
Lifting people out of poverty must become a national priority, she said, speaking at city hall on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.Read more
Everything in Ruth Westcott’s life changed for the better when she became part of Ontario’s basic income pilot project.
The Thunder Bay woman had been on social assistance for nearly 30 years, but once she came out of the now-cancelled pilot project, her health improved dramatically and she became well enough to work.
“Just like everyone else I know on social assistance, I was getting sicker and sicker and more and more disabled the deeper and deeper my poverty was getting,” she said.Read more
City councillors in Thunder Bay, Ont., heard how the cancellation of the province's basic income pilot project is having an impact on some of the poorest people in the city.
The Lakehead Social Planning Council (LSPC) gave council a basic profile of those who are most affected by poverty, which the report said tend to be Indigenous people, women and those between the ages of 30 and 49. While the report gave many facts and figures on how many people in the city are affected by poverty, it also offered some solutions.Read more
A participant in, and an advocate for, the basic income pilot project in Thunder Bay, Ont., says he's facing a lot of uncertainty now that the program is in its waning weeks.
The pilot, launched by the previous provincial Liberal government, was cancelled after the Progressive Conservatives came into office in the June 2018 election. Despite the six-month wind-down, anti-poverty activists have said canceling the program ahead of schedule puts many in very difficult situations.Read more
About 30 people braved the cold weather on Tuesday afternoon to raise their voices at an anti-poverty rally outside city hall in Thunder Bay, Ont.
Demonstrators held signs and set up tents at the event, which was organized by the grassroots group Disrupt and held to protest changes to provincial social assistance programs, including the cancelation of the basic income pilot.Read more
It was pure coincidence that both meetings happened on the same day.
Fourteen participants in Ontario's basic income pilot project met Aug. 8 at a business incubator in the south end of Thunder Bay after the Progressive Conservative government announced it would wind the program down early.
They had been receiving cheques from the province every month, as part of a research project to measure the effect of handing out larger amounts of money than social assistance normally provides, without many requirements. Anyone in Thunder Bay who lived on less than $34,000 individually or $48,000 with a partner had been eligible to apply.Read more
Proponents of Ontario’s now cancelled basic income pilot project descended on the constituency office of Liberal MP and cabinet minister Patty Hajdu on Friday afternoon, hoping she’d help convince the federal government to pick up the slack.
They left somewhat disappointed.
Hajdu told the group social assistance is under the jurisdiction of the province, and there was little she could do to convince Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford to change his mind.Read more
Thunder Bay- Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle says he's hopeful that the province's basic income pilot project can still be saved.
Gravelle said he made a Facebook post earlier this month asking for feedback from residents who have been "directly or indirectly affected" by the abrupt and early cancellation of the research project on August 1.
"This has been a disastrous decision by the provincial government," Gravelle told CBC News, "I don't understand it and certainly based on the responses I've received ... the program needs to be maintained."Read more
Sherry Mendowegan says these days, "life is good."
The 41-year-old mother of two, who lives in Thunder Bay, Ont., can't stop smiling as she describes the ways in which her life is different, since she was selected to be part of Ontario's basic income pilot project.
"My life has changed so much," she said, explaining that her family can now afford a car, and that she and her partner now have enough money to take their children out to enjoy recreational activities.
What's more, Mendowegan, who recently earned her Grade 12 diploma, plans to attend college this fall. It's something that would have seemed impossible a year ago.Read more
The Lindsay Advocate
In the three cities in Ontario where basic income is being tested – which includes Lindsay – there are still about 1,200 open spots for lower income people.
If you’re working or own your own business but just not earning enough, or if you’re on Ontario Works or disability, you might be eligible.
Potential basic income recipients must live in Lindsay and have been living there for at least the past 12 months. As well, you must be:
- 18 to 64 years old (for the entire duration of the three-year study)
- living on a low income (under $34,000 per year if you’re single or under $48,000 per year if you’re a couple)