Canada's Ontario government cuts basic income project short

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

People in Hamilton who were part of the Basic Income Pilot Project say they're shocked and angry after the province cancelled the program yesterday.

The Ford government is working on a plan to reform Social Assistance so that it can help more people break the cycle of poverty, re-enter the workforce and get back on track.

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.

Announced under the previous Liberal government, nearly 4,000 people were enrolled in the pilot program in five regions: Lindsay, Thunder Bay, Hamilton, Brantford, and Brant County.

By the numbers: About 4,000 people in Ontario, Canada began getting monthly stipends last October to boost them to at least 75 percent of the poverty line.

"What I'm announcing today is about restoring dignity to Ontarians", she said.

The Ford government is ending the Ontario basic income pilot project.

Under the program's current guidelines, a single person would receive a maximum of $17,000 (Canadian) per year and a married couple would receive $24,000 (Canadian).

Basic income programmes are being tested out around the world. "I told my spouse we will make it but it's going to be hard", Mendowegan said, adding her spouse had been able to stay at home as the care provider for their children while she went back to school. Earlier this week, she said it would continue in August, but Thursday said payouts would extend into September.

Interim Liberal Leader John Fraser said the Tories had done nothing but tear things down and would continue to do so.

MacLeod said the program was "clearly not the answer for Ontario families", but she didn't provide data backing the decision to end it.

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.

Some advocacy groups have also denounced the move, as have some who received support through social assistance or the basic income program.

"It's not just about money, it's about security", she said.

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