Basic Income Pilot Program cancelled

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The head of the local United Way is speaking out following the Ontario government's announcement that it will halve a planned increase to social assistance payments and scrap the province's basic income pilot project.

On Tuesday, Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod announced a review of the entire slate of income assistance programs provided by Ontario.

"I knew it was coming every month", she said.

Since she started participating in the program a year ago, Mendowegan has received her Grade 12 diploma, is in the process of completing a 16-week remote cooking course and is enrolled to start the office administrator program at Confederation College.

"It was certainly not going to be sustainable", MacLeod said.

"I was expecting it, but it's so hard, there's so many people who live like me and it's not just me and it's not just people who don't want to work, it's people who can't work".

He said a Basic Income reduces red tape for the poor, saves money in healthcare and decreases the burden on the criminal justice system.

"It's reprehensible, reprehensibly irresponsible to announce the end of the pilot without thinking those things through about how they're going to wind up the program and how they are going to support people", he said.

Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner, meanwhile, said the basic income program had previously been touted by conservative economists, who saw it as a small-government solution to help people out of poverty. Provincial Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod said yesterday that Ontario would be ending the "quite expensive" experiment.

As well, through the Ontario Works program she was on before being selected for the basic income, any funding Mendowegan received for her education counted as income and would have been deducted from her social assistance. "It's knowing that no matter what else happens in life, you've got something that helps you deal with that".