Basic income program cut 'devastating' for recipients

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The first steps of the new government of Ontario will be aiming at the abolition of the Liberal party proposed a plan to increase payments to social programs Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Works 3%.

Lisa Macleod, Ontario's minister of social services, called the province's basic income program "broken" and said it's costing taxpayers too much money.

"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".

"With a rate increase that doesn't match the rate of inflation, I can't imagine how people are going to survive", she said. She went on: "We want to get people back on track and be productive members of society where that's possible".

"Our plan will help get people back to work and keep them working, while supporting people with disabilities to work when they are able and participate in their communities", said MacLeod. 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, statistics show.

While Regehr doesn't think Ottawa should be bailing Ford out, "if he really refuses and will not budge, participants in this pilot shouldn't suffer", she said.

The government also announced that it would wind down Ontario's basic income pilot project, which was meant to provide money to 4,000 low-income people in Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Lindsay for three years. "It's possible there may even be an increase in demand for social assistance because of it".

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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.

But just a little less than halfway through the pilot, the government of Ontario is scrapping the program.

He's one of many who work in the sector across Ontario and feel the same way.

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.

Single participants get up to $17,000 a year and couples $24,000.

In April 2017, the Canadian province launched a trial of basic income, a program in which a government regularly pays its citizens a set amount of money, no strings attached.

If the effect on private consumption isn't convincing enough, PROOF research by Tarasuk and others has examined how poverty and food insecurity are associated with many other adverse health consequences that increase government expenditures for health care, a serious economic concern in Ontario and elsewhere.

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