Province Officially Ending Basic Income Program

It looks like some Ontario residents will no longer be receiving financial assistance as part of the basic income pilot progam.

The newly elected PC government is currently reforming social assistance in the province. The province has announce that it’s implementing a “compassionate wind down” of Ontario’s basic income pilot project.

The reform will be in place by the end of the fiscal year.

"We have a broken social service system. A research project that helps less than four thousand people is not the answer and provides no hope to the nearly two million Ontarians who are trapped in the cycle of poverty," said Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, in a recent statement from the province.

"We are winding down the basic income research project in a compassionate way."

The province says the reforms will “help more people break the cycle of poverty, re-enter the workforce and get back on track.”

This “wind down” was first announced back in July.

The province has confirmed that payments to eligible participants will continue until March 31, 2019

This will allow participants enough time to transition to more proven support programs without putting an undue burden on Ontario taxpayers,” reads the release.

According to the province, this project has had an “extraordinary” cost for taxpayers.

The Ministry of Finance, says that if basic income were implemented across the province, HST would skyrocket from 13 per cent to 20 per cent.

The province is currently under a 100-day review of social assistance and poverty reduction strategies. An official plan is expected on November 8, 2018.

The basic income pilot project is a little over a year old.

Back in April, the provincial government, then led by Kathleen Wynne, said that a total of 4,000 participants are enrolled in the basic income pilot in Lindsay, Hamilton, Brantford and Brant County and Thunder Bay.

Here's how much the 4,000 basic income recipients are currently getting under the program:

  • Up to $16,989 per year for a single person, less 50 per cent of any earned income
  • Up to $24,027 per year for a couple, less 50 per cent of any earned income
  • Up to an additional $6,000 per year for a person with a disability

Participants were chosen based on a few factors, including if they were between the ages of 18-64, and if they were living on a low income (under $34,000 per year if single or under $48,000 per year as a couple).

The pilot was considered fairly groundbreaking and was recognized internationally as a finalist in the Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards.

In the intermediate term, the PC government says it will provide current Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program recipients with a 1.5 per cent increase in support rates.

MacLeod says the basic income wind down will allow the province to “focus resources on more proven approaches.”

What do you think of the province ending the basic income pilot program?

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