Ontario government defends move to axe basic income pilot project

Ontario government defends move to axe basic income pilot project

The Ontario government made a decision to ditch its universal income project this week, with Ministers saying the expensive pilot program was "clearly not the answer" for the nation's working families and those below the poverty line.

"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".

"It is not possible for someone in my riding of Guelph or in communities across Ontario to live on $721 per month".

Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod during question period at Queen's Park on August 1, 2018 one day after she announced that a planned increase to welfare rates would be cut in half and the basic income pilot project would be killed.

Ontario's Children, Community and Social Services Minister Lisa Macleod attends Question Period at Queen's Park, in Toronto on Tuesday, July 31, 2018.

Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod said Tuesday the government is scrapping the "basic income" project of the previous Liberal government.

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In the March budget the Liberals announced they would raise income assistance rates by three per cent. MacLeod said that will be reduced to a 1.5 per cent increase. On the same day she also revealed a planned 3 per cent welfare increase for September would be cut in half.

About 4,000 Canadians were enrolled in the program in selected regions: Thunder Bay, Lindsay, Hamilton, Brantford, and Brant County, the CBC reported.

During the pilot, a single person could have received up to about $17,000 a year, less 50% of any earned income. "Ironically, the original idea for a Basic Income Guarantee came from conservative economists", said Schreiner. "This decision isn't about saving money, this decision is about fixing a broken system", she said.

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

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

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