Raise the Hammer
Brian Russell had $40 left in his pocket when he was one of 4,000 people selected for Ontario's basic income pilot project. "Your life is better," he says. "I had better food and money to travel around the city. My life was more stable and secure."
For Joan Frame, basic income payments from the province meant she no longer had to borrow from friends to make it through the last few days of the month. Frame says she was always juggling bills and that basic income gave her back power over her life.
"I don't know if you've ever been in a situation where you need to ask for money, but it is impossibly difficult," she says. "It was the worst part about being on any kind of assistance for me."
On March 31, 2019, Doug Ford's government ended the pilot, plunging participants and their families back into a dysfunctional welfare system that penalizes them for simply being poor.
Launched by the Liberals under Kathleen Wynne, Ford claimed that some 25 percent of participants were either dropping out or failing to meet basic obligations, such as filing their taxes. Neither claim was verified.
In fact, the project was achieving its goals of improving food and housing security and mental health, as well as increasing access to education, training and employment, it was also reducing demands on the provincial health care system.
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