Lisa MacLeod Admits Ontario Tories Broke Election Vow By Scrapping Basic Income

Canadian province scraps ‘not sustainable’ basic income program pilot

The Ottawa Food Bank says it's disappointed in the decision by Ontario's PC government to cancel a basic income pilot project, and to pull back on planned increases to social assistance rates.

In an afternoon news conference, Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod said the government would come up with a plan within 100 days to overhaul the "disjointed patchwork system" left by the previous Liberal regime.

The government announced Tuesday it was "winding down" the project and cutting a planned three per cent increase in social assistance to 1.5% - the first steps in its plan to revamp the social assistance system.

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.

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.

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Those eligible for the experimental program were unemployed or with an annual income below 34,000 Canadian dollars ($26,000) - or under 48,000 Canadians (US$37,000) dollars if they are a couple - less 50 percent of any earned income.

"And our efforts to fix social assistance will go hand-in-hand with our commitments to reduce gas prices by 10% litre, lower hydro rates, and provide targeted tax relief for working parents and minimum wage earners, all of which will provide focused benefits to lower income families".

Ontario's previous government implemented the pilot program last July, estimating that it would cost about CA$150 million. "The basic income program is now in a pilot stage", she said, "and we look forward to seeing the results". "Hell no", she said.

"We need to do more than just help people remain mired in poverty", said Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, when announcing the reform plan. Suggesting the program discouraged participants from finding work.

Advocates for basic income initiatives said such programs are more effective in lifting people out of poverty than social assistance and require less bureaucracy to run. "Spending more money on a broken program wasn't going to help anyone".

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