Ontario government defends move to axe basic income pilot project

The cancellation of the Ontario basic income pilot project is expected to make life harder for a local participant in the program, who believed it was providing an opportunity to move past social assistance.

It recruited 4,000 participants from three regions across Ontario.

With the project already 15 months old, MacLeod said there will be "ample results by the time we end up winding the program down".

"I had a three-year plan and now it's gone", Hamilton's Dave Cherkewski told CBC News. That translates to a minimum annual income of $17,000 in Canadian dollars (about $13,000 US) for single people, $24,000 for married couples. Individuals living with a disability were receiving an additional $6,000 per year.

"Things like increasing social assistance rates and basic income pilots, those are just good policies to have", said Ziegner.

"I'm disappointed and upset", Knoll said.

"We're going to hit the pause button on the previous government's patchwork system and replace it with a system that helps stabilize people in need and support them to succeed".

Basic income programs give people "the ability to have some security, to have some autonomy, to have the feeling that you're in control, that you are making decisions that are best for your life, not some bureaucracy that thinks it knows best", she said.

"It's devastating. It's really devastating".

Lisa MacLeod, the Progressive Conservative minister of children, community and social services, said the program "clearly not the answer for Ontario families" when she made the announcement at a Queen's Park news conference.

The government's first steps, announced Tuesday, will be to cancel the previous Liberal government's plan to raise Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works rates by three per cent and raise them by 1.5 per cent instead.

"It's deeply frustrating that the pilot is being ended early before we have any evidence on whether it is working", said Schreiner.

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".

  • Rogelio Becker