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Published: Mon, August 06, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Ford government defends move to axe basic income pilot project

Ford government defends move to axe basic income pilot project

Lisa MacLeod, Ontario's minister in charge of social services, cited the high costs of the project ($150 million in Canadian dollars) as the reason for the cuts and said it was "clearly not the answer for Ontario families".

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

But Ontario just ousted the Liberal Party and elected a new Progressive Conservative government, and the new regime had other ideas.

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.

Instead of seeing the first of three three-per-cent increases in Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program payments this fall, she said at a Toronto news conference, recipients will get a 1.5-per-cent increase (in September for those on disability programs, in October for those on Ontario Works). "I was going to go back to college and get a trade so that I can better myself so that I can provide and help out in the community", Pelland said. "My commitment to the people of Ontario, particularly the people who are most vulnerable, is that we will get it right".

The basic income pilot project was introduced in April 2017 and was tested in Hamilton, Brantford, Brant County, Lindsay and Thunder Bay and the surrounding area.

"It's one of the things I'm really anxious about", said Kwame McKenzie, a psychiatrist and CEO of the Wellesley Institute, on Thursday. Single people in this program could receive up to $16 989 per year, whereas pair - $24 027. More than 2,000 additional individuals are volunteering as participants in the study without receiving monthly payments. "It will support people with disabilities to work when they are able", she said, adding that the planned changes would "get them on their feet and restore dignity in their lives".

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

When Ontario announced its intention to fund a basic income pilot in 2016, Duclos welcomed the initiative and said Ottawa would be watching.

As well, through the Ontario Works program she was on before being selected for the basic income, any funding Mendowegan received for her education counted as income and would have been deducted from her social assistance.

Bob Bratina, the former Hamilton mayor and Liberal MP for Hamilton-East Stoney Creek, said he also felt for constituents who would be suffering as a result of the provincial move.

Mike Nadeau agrees that the current social assistance program isn't getting the outcomes social service agencies want to see.

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