Years of compromise scuttled by chopping basic income pilot

The Province

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. 

The former Ontario Liberal government implemented the pilot project and Doug Ford’s campaign promise to let it play itself out in the test phase helped many to breathe easier.

But it wasn’t to be. Weeks after taking office, the Progressive Conservative government announced its cancellation, throwing everything into a tizzy. While some viewed it as a brutal act and others maintained it was a courageous move, very few realized what was actually lost.

This was a program that pulled people together across ideological divides, forming a working model that was the epitome of the compromise, respect, understanding and compassion that polls repeatedly suggest Canadians want from their governments.

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