Ford government scrapping Ontario basic income pilot project

06 August, 2018, 07:23 | Author: Bert Pena
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Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod said the government is scrapping the "basic income" project of the previous Liberal government.

Doug Ford's government is cancelling the basic income pilot program and slowing down increases to income assistance.

Though a party spokesperson stated during the lead up to the election that the Conservative government, if elected would continue the basic income trial, the officials have apparently changed their minds.

"My commitment to the people of Ontario, particularly the people who are most vulnerable, is that we will get it right", MacLeod said, "I, in good conscience, could not proceed on the patchwork of systems that the Liberals had in place". Lisa MacLeod did not offer an alternative for moving forward, apart from a vague mention of a "better plan in 100 days".

The government announced Tuesday it was "winding down" the project and cutting a planned three per cent increase in social assistance to 1.5% - the first steps in its plan to revamp the social assistance system.

"Social assistance will always be about compassion for people in need, but it must also be about lifting people up and helping them get their lives back on track through more jobs, more opportunities and more hope".

"So I'll be working with my colleagues... in making sure that we have an ability to integrate people back into the workforce where they can and making sure that they keep more money in their pockets". One in five people stays on Ontario Works for five or more years, and if they leave nearly half return, 90 per cent of them within a year. "Spending more money on a broken program wasn't going to help anyone".

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The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, which had been critical of the project, said cancelling it only a year in "demonstrates a reckless disregard for the lives of almost 4,000 people.who planned their lives on the assurance of having a set income for three years".

Under the project, randomly selected participants living in three communities in Ontario were being given at least C$16,989 ($12,600, £9,850) a year to live on, minus 50% of any earned income. MacLeod suggested the basic income pilot was a disincentive to people to find work.

"I live with a person with a disability day-to-day and I'm involved in it through advocacy and it's still hard for me to understand the varying life situations of people in Ontario", she said.

Sheila Regehr, chair of the Basic Income Canada Network, said demographic groups such as seniors and parents with young children receive support that follows the basic income model, with better outcomes than social assistance.

That was reported as an admission of breaking the PC's campaign promise not to cancel the pilot.

Ries also advocates for people with disabilities and those dealing with poverty and said the situation is much worse for people without family support.

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