Ford government scrapping basic income pilot project

Ontario's Children Community and Social Services Minister Lisa Macleod attends Question Period at Queen's Park in Toronto on Tuesday

Ontario's Children Community and Social Services Minister Lisa Macleod attends Question Period at Queen's Park in Toronto on Tuesday

"That fake news that was in the news today totally mischaracterizes what we are doing", the minister for children, community and social services said during question period at Queen's Park on Thursday.

The Ontario government defended their decision to put the brakes on a basic income pilot project Wednesday, saying the program discouraged participants from finding work.

The Ontario government said in a press release that it will be exploring new avenues to lift its low income residents-the number of whom has risen by 55% in the last 15 years-out of poverty.

On Tuesday, MacLeod described the previous system enacted by the former Liberal government as a "disjointed, patchwork system with no interest in whether these programs delivered results".

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"The design of provincial social programs is up to the provincial governments", federal Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos's office said in a statement.

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). "The price of gas going down is not going to make a difference to them", Garvey said. It was created to evaluate whether providing more money to people on public assistance or low incomes would make a significant difference in their lives.

The government is also scrapping an experiment with a universal basic income the Liberals started in Hamilton, Brantford, Brant County, Lindsay and Thunder Bay and its surroundings. The Ottawa Food Bank points out, social assistance rates have not kept pace with inflation and argues that the reduced increase will continue to cause reliance on emergency food banks.

How did the program work?

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"What we have seen is that the program is not doing what it was meant to do", Ms. MacLeod said. Single participants receive up to $16,989 a year while couples receive up to $24,027, less 50 per cent of any earned income.

The research team also compared seniors' guaranteed income with conditional income assistance programs.

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.

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

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"When you're encouraging people to accept money without strings attached, it really doesn't send the message that I think our ministry and our government wants to send".

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