Progressive Conservatives Announce Cancellation of Basic Income Program

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Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, says the previous Liberal government left behind a patchwork system that the Progressive Conservatives will replace.

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

We're a little more than a year in now and the Doug Ford Progressive Conservative government has made a decision to scrap the whole thing.

On the question of how the government determined that a pilot project is ineffective, even to the end, MacLeod was just told that this program "does what was created, and quite expensive".

The problem, MacLeod said, is that the social-assistance system doesn't help people, which she learned from her briefings since she became the minister responsible at the end of June. She went on: "We want to get people back on track and be productive members of society where that's possible".

Couples on the programme would receive total C$24,027. She said that the family would be going from having a sense of financial security to living "day-to-day".

The province will also wind down Ontario's Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) pilot project, which provided payments to 4,000 low-income people in communities including Hamilton, Brantford, Thunder Bay and Lindsay.

"It's one of the things I'm really anxious about", said Kwame McKenzie, a psychiatrist and CEO of the Wellesley Institute, on Thursday.

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

Mike Schreiner, Guelph MPP and Green Party leader, considers the increase to be a cut to the social assistance rate.

"What I'm announcing today is about restoring dignity to Ontarians", she said.

Ontario, Canada has scrapped its experiment with basic income-a hot but largely untested idea for reducing poverty-before any results could be gleaned, sparking criticism from researchers and outrage from program recipients.

Losing the program is going to make those plans more hard, she said. Single persons under the plan could have received up to $17,000 per year, minus half of any income he/she earned.

During the election campaign, the PC party had suggested the pilot project would be kept through to its completion. The food bank says the pilot was already making positive changes, and would have provided evidence-based research as to whether a basic income approach could be a tool to reduce poverty in Ontario.

But the cost of the basic income program, around $50 million per year, pales in comparison to the billions of dollars that poverty extracts in the form of health care burdens, loss of productivity, and social services. That's information any government concerned about vulnerable populations should value, Regehr said.

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