Thursday, 16 August, 2018

Backlash Erupts in Canadian Province After Government Kills Basic Income Test

Ford government announces social assistance overhaul Ford government scrapping basic income pilot project
Glenn Montgomery | 06 August, 2018, 07:24

A Toronto physician who served as an adviser on Ontario's basic income pilot project says its cancellation could have negative effects on the health of people already at higher risk of illness.

Though the Progressive Conservatives had promised to preserve the pilot project, Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod said the government reversed course after hearing from ministry staff that the program didn't help people become "independent contributors to the economy".

Advocates for basic income initiatives said such programs are more effective in lifting people out of poverty than social assistance and require less bureaucracy to run.

It's 1.5 per cent more than they're getting now, MacLeod said.

Participants had not been notified and still haven't received any information about when their payments will end, four people enrolled in the program tell HuffPost Canada. "Ontario will focus resources on more proven approaches".

Canadian province abandons a-month-old basic income pilot project, according to the Ontario government's announcement.

"I hadn't thought about it. except to say everything the provincial government does is a matter of discussion for us", he said when asked if he thinks Ottawa should step in to complete the project.

That increase is down from the former government's scheduled increase of 3 per cent which was set for October.

Research from other jurisdictions that have experimented with a basic income does not support the government's position, McKenzie said, adding that the three-year window would have provided ample time to draw meaningful conclusions about the pilot's efficacy. "Ironically, the original idea for a Basic Income Guarantee came from conservative economists", said Schreiner. These participants had to be making less than $34,000 individually or $48,000 as a couple and were given up to $16,989 a year for individuals or $24,027 a year for couples to supplement their costs of living.

"What I'm announcing today is about restoring dignity to Ontarians", she said. The theory is that wiping away a bunch of programs with different qualifying standards and reporting requirements and replacing them with a simple payment means much less bureaucracy, gives recipients more freedom to make their own financial choices, and rewards participants for earning money by working.

That was reported as an admission of breaking the PC's campaign promise not to cancel the pilot. "There are more compassionate ways the government could save money without targeting the most vulnerable".

The group predicted the government's pledge to reform social assistance was nothing but a thinly veiled return to cuts brought in by former Tory premier Mike Harris, and vowed to oppose what it called Premier Doug Ford's "war on the poor".

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