News. Community. Wellness.

Basic Income gone: Ford’s abrupt cancellation of program devastates Lindsay

Basic Income gone: Ford’s abrupt cancellation of program devastates Lindsay

in Columnists/Poverty Reduction by

All over Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford promised over and over that “a new day will dawn in Ontario,” should he be elected, “for the people.”

Well, here’s his new day dawning for about 2,000 people who live in Lindsay, their lives just starting to be changed for the better by basic income — and it’s not the kind of day they were expecting.

Here’s his new day dawning for Roseanne Johnson who says she can’t survive without that money, and that she and her son will “soon be on the streets.”  Or Lauretta Blackman who saw her grandchildren for the first time because she finally had enough money for transportation.

Publisher Roderick Benns.

Here’s Premier Ford’s new day for Chris Robertson who had just started buying more nutritious food for herself and now fears she will be in a depression, like so many others. Or Shannon Farr and her husband, who both suffered debilitating accidents in different incidences in the last few years. They went years without transportation and had just started to finance a car once again, to help improve their life prospects. Now, she worries how they will ever possibly afford it.

Right now we think of Barb Doyle’s daughter who made the decision to go to college and was relying on basic income to make it happen. As her mother writes, “so many people signed leases, decided to go to school, invested in transportation…on the premise that the program would last three years. What are people supposed to do now that they can’t meet their obligations?”

Perhaps ironically it was Lisa MacLeod, the so-called minister of “Children, Community and Social Services” who delivered this news that will affect 10 per cent of Lindsay’s population, as well as 1,000 people in Thunder Bay and another 1,000 in Hamilton area. If ever a politician didn’t deserve this title, it may be her, considering it is kids, our social policy framework, and our community that she is affecting. Oh, but we’re not supposed to worry because the PC’s are going to take “100 days” and figure out something better – and this after promising to leave the pilot alone for the three years it was supposed to run.

Basic Income has been around since the 1790s as an idea, amassing boxes of evidence-based research from Canada and around the world over the past decades. Media across the globe have shone a spotlight on Lindsay to share what we’re doing here. But Ford and McLeod are going to figure out what we need to do in three months on the back of a napkin? Please.

The sum of $150 million – the approximate cost of this program in Ontario for three short years — may sound like a lot of money but it is chump change when it comes to the money governments spend on programs.

No, this was not a necessary move to save money. This was ideologically driven. It is mean-spirited.

It is wrong.

Remember this moment when the ‘tax cuts’ come later, suddenly affordable.

Ford knew that the evidence from the basic income pilot would show that it actually – surprise surprise – creates a healthier society when there are less people impoverished. He knew that the evidence would surely show that when we take the worry of poverty off people’s shoulders they become more involved in their communities, form better associations, do a better job raising their families, and have better mental health.

And where was Minister of Labour Laurie Scott during this debate, our own local MPP? How hard did she fight around that inner circle at the Cabinet table to keep basic income in Lindsay? Is she still fighting this decision now? These are questions we have asked her and will be reporting on soon.

Ford travelled all over Ontario during the recent election, pretending to be the man of the people, railing against the wealthy ‘elite’ (meanwhile he’s a multi-millionaire), and as soon as he arrives in office it’s time for Mike Harris 2.0.

We will not paint conservatism itself with this brush, for it was former Progressive Conservative Hugh Segal himself who designed the basic income program for the previous Ontario government. It was Progressive Conservative Leader Robert Stanfield in the 1970s who campaigned on the need for a ‘guaranteed annual income.’

No, we point to Ford himself and his particular brand of unkind, simplistic-minded politics that would rather divide people and harm communities, rather than see another government’s idea succeed.

Now, it’s time to react to the unkindness. It’s time to make our voices heard. Write to MPP Laurie Scott here and let her know what you think. Copy and paste that letter and then write to Ford himself here. Call Laurie Scott’s office at 705-324-6654. Call the Premier’s office at 416-325-1941.  To send mail: Premier of Ontario, Legislative Building, Queen’s Park , Toronto ON M7A 1A1.

Tell them to let the pilot finish and let the third-party evaluators do their job during and afterwards.

We don’t want Ford’s new day to dawn anymore on the people of Ontario.

Neither does Ron Hutton, a Lindsay man on basic income who had just gotten off disability and was experiencing more dignity with a little more money to live on.

“I myself wish I could work again, at least I would be seen as a human being. I voted for Ford because I believed he saw us. I believed he would do well for the poor, but unfortunately like all the governments we are just an inconvenience to them, someone to have our lives played with and changed drastically. We are people, not toys or dirt. I just want to be a person again…”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Roderick Benns is the publisher of The Lindsay Advocate. He is the author of 'Basic Income: How a Canadian Movement Could Change the World,' and is also Vice Chair of the Ontario Basic Income Network. An award-winning author and journalist who grew up in Lindsay, Roderick has interviewed former Prime Ministers of Canada, Senators, and Mayors across Canada. He also wrote and published a series of books for youth about Canada's Prime Ministers as teens.

20 Comments

  1. While I feel badly for the few privileged among the poor chosen to participate in this small sample guaranteed-income experiment, I did worry about how the outcome might impact any initiative going forward. We all know the same data can be used to support diametrically-opposed conclusions depending on who spins it. Had the dominant voice analyzed the result of this small experiment to be detrimental to the whole, say by the raising of prices generally, it could have had devastating effects on any similar projects going forward. Hugh Segal and Art Eggleton published “In From the Margins” almost ten years ago to recommend federal guaranteed income legislation. Nothing has changed since then. Guaranteed income cannot work when it is only given to a few on an experimental basis. That disproportionately disadvantages the many. It must be implemented at the federal level and be made available to all whose means require it. If it is administered by CRA software, it will also save Canadians millions in tax dollars. Everyone wins and no one is left behind. The poor are no longer pressured to do petty crime and can pursue their dreams. Let’s make this happen. Petition PM Trudeau and, locally, MP Jamie Schmale, to bring guaranteed income law to Canada, all of Canada. Many Conservative leaders, not only Hugh Segal, favour guaranteed income for Canada’s poorest citizens. The cost of the growing shelter system alone – necessary now because poor singles can not afford to purchase shelter on what welfare pays – makes really bad sense economically. Growing numbers of Conservatives at the federal, provincial and municipal level recognize not only that guaranteed income law makes good sense economically but they also recognize that poor folks need independence and dignity, not to be told with whom to reside and what to eat. This is not a partisan issue. Poverty does not discriminate.

    • Sounds like UBI just makes people even more helplessly dependent on the government. I’d rather have a better job market than more welfare.

      • Hi Guy; instead of looking at it as something which is like a welfare system, think of it as a dividend an organization is giving its shareholders. On a daily basis people contribute to our society in order to make it function properly. Even the simply picking up dog droppings in order to keep our streets clean are actions which makes our society better than many other countries. That is a simple thing … on the other end of the scale consider the soldiers who have died in the wars … they invested in our society with blood so their children can live a better life.

        You have also missed the point of what people do with the money. They are using it so they get healthier, get education and to get jobs. There is a universal basic income already across Canada … except it is negative. No matter where you live there are property taxes (unless you live in a cave in Northern Canada). If you rent … it is hidden in the amount you are charged because your landlord has to pay it. Every Canadian has to pay taxes in one form or another … that is why Tax Freedom Day was June 10th this year (https://www.fraserinstitute.org/sites/default/files/tax-freedom-day-2018.pdf)

    • All of the families that I know on this pilot project are working full time or the most that they can within their disability and/or childcare available to them.

      How can you work if there is no daycare available to you?

      Why would you pay for $120/day for daycare between three kids, for example, if there are only minimum wage jobs available to you?

      I’ve been pregnant working along side people here in Lindsay working 48 hours a week for months on end – grueling work- making poverty level wages. Many of these people having a trade or post secondary.

      Poverty is a denial of basic human rights sold as a character flaw.

  2. PC promised to let the Basic Income run for 3 year term …. were excited to see the results even, the “Man of my word, when I make a promise I keep it” has just shown his true colors.

    I dragged 3 others out to vote for this man along side my own vote cause his brother was honest, and our Rep Laurie Scott has always been for the people …. I still think I was right to support Laurie, she has always gone out of her way to listen to those of her district.

    Thankfully my asthmatic daughter was able to order her medical supplies before we lose what was promised for 3 years but Mr. Ford has lost a lot more, he just lost the faith of the people who voted for him …. up till yesterday I still believed in him but what does lower gas prices and lower hydro rates do for those on assistance, they look for “all inclusive” apartments cause they can’t afford hydro, and a car …. that is a joke right, we don’t get money for licenses, insurance, plates, stickers and renewals …. buck a beer …. so get drunk and die of starvation? I thought the point was to stop the abuse of money by people who’d prefer to get drunk or stay high and not work.

    The bright side is a reduction of population due to people dying from OD’s would save lots of money, plus those who can’t afford things falling back into debt (if they even managed to climb out) and getting depressed and possibly thinking it easier to end it all …. where does this help the people, oh right, the poor people aren’t really people …. the memes of the “fridge full welfare bum” versus the “empty hard working man’s fridge”, or the welfare bum popping out a kid every few years to get a huge check and support their other habits …. not a mother of disabled children who works all day taking care of them with no financial supports stuck in a failing system that they are just gonna toss another bandage on and try to get hailed as heroes!

  3. “We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost”

    https://www.charliechaplin.com/en/articles/29-The-Final-Speech-from-The-Great-Dictator-

  4. Poverty is everywhere not just Lindsay. If you struggle dont have children then… do the math. I work every day and struggle to.. no pilot project here… just get working and we are left to figure it out. There are jobs in Lindsay? But if your given free income then why work? Ridiculous project. Now.. increase monthly payments like ontario works etc. Better housing that can be affordable.. those would help. Throwing free money.. well my and the working poor’ tax dollars at people who are complaining is annoying. Paying for transportation one said to see her grandchildren what! How about paying insurance and gas I put out just to get to my job!! I agree with Ford… cut the free money and let’s address poverty (everywhere) with more logical avenues.

  5. Lindsay is a rats nest ….it’s about time they cleaned things up and got people to work instead of rely on hand outs.

  6. I agree with Bob. I live in Lindsay in the crappy part, my husband and I moved here unaware of how much of a dump it is. We bought a lovely century home and are surrounded by low life’s who just want to get high and stay on assistance. Just yesterday the rehab rental behind our house, a guy came out and started shooting a bebe gun towards our house, thank God my newborn grandchildren weren’t visiting. We have 2 meth clinics that have a line every morning of derelicts waiting to get high. No one works and there are lots of jobs in Lindsay. I see lots of young people who look capable of working but are getting welfare. I don’t get it. I guess the case workers don’t care or follow up on these people. Back in the day if you were getting welfare you had to prove you were looking for a job or be cut off. between syringes on lawns and a drug dealer next door and parolees on the other side who also don’t work and are getting tax payers money, we are looking at moving.

    • Poverty reduces intelligence (https://www.princeton.edu/news/2013/08/29/poor-concentration-poverty-reduces-brainpower-needed-navigating-other-areas-life). Lack of intelligence leads to bad decisions (shooting BB guns).

      Back in the day, I used to have people walk in my store, drop resumes off and had me sign a form saying they walked into my store and dropped off a resume… I got depressed just looking at them. A universal basic income has been in a number of pilot projects around the world and the results were consistent. Consider Mincome … the project which was conducted in Manitoba during the 1970’s.

      – There were two groups who stopped working: highschool dropouts who didn’t drop out but continued their education instead; pregnant women who didn’t return to work immediately but stayed home to take care of their babies (maternity leave did not exist then).
      – Divorce rates increased: families in conflict were able to terminate bad marriages … because they had a safety net to rely on.
      – Hospitals were less busy: better food, happier people means less demands on the health system.

      As far as the current welfare system, getting a job means that you will receive less money. Every dollar that you receive as income is deducted from a welfare payment. Go to work and receive less money or stay at home and get more… what would most people do?

      Having a universal basic income means any additional income (even minimum wage job … for one hour a day) just adds to a person’s income. Not only has it been found that instead of being welfare dependents UBI participants get and keep jobs but also their productivity goes up.

  7. if Mr. benns grew up in Lindsay then he would know first hand lindsay has always been a welfare town. ..kids have always been pushing strollers with babies and meeting downtown Lindsay on the street corner for as long as I can remember…they will all have to go back to stealing to get the extra money needed to keep their drug and cigarette habits going. most of them are becoming too lazy to steal. ..that’s why Lindsay crime rate is down ….. Ford should be prime minister and stop the waste of money being used to house illegal immigrants in hotels …om surprised they dont bring all the refugees to Lindsay and build a mosque for them. …
    maybe that is coming next….

    • If Lindsay has always been a welfare town, going back to the old way of doing things will not solve the problem. Are you saying that since the implementation of the Basic Income project the crime rate has gone down? At most the Ontario basic income was $16,989 per person. (please correct me if I am wrong) In 2015-2016, it cost an average of approximately $116,000 … to maintain an offender in a CSC institution (http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/publications/005007-3024-eng.shtml)

  8. Mr. Benns did grow up in Lindsay — and I would not have changed that for anything. Lindsay is a great town, with great people. I had wonderful teachers, great experiences, and I have always been proud to say where I am from. Like any town it has its challenges, whether economic or social, but that is neither here nor there. It all comes down to what we want to see and what we want to do about it.

    My job, Bob, is Publisher of The Lindsay Advocate. It is also my job, with the help of my team, to keep an eye on comments on this public forum that are inappropriate. Please try to add to the dialogue, rather than subtract from it.

  9. It is sad when I a government forgets the reason for its mandate… to improve the lives of the people that it represents. Why does a government build roads, build hospitals and schools? Why doesn’t a government cut off all funding towards those areas? Is it because someone realizes those are critical expenses in our society necessary to make it function properly?
    Cutting funding to the Basic Income pilot halfway through its lifespan is the same mistake a foolish government did in the 1970s in Manitoba. Imagine if the Pinta, Niña and Santa Maria turned around midway across the Atlantic. Having gone so far, it is important to see what is on the other side. While I never agreed with the format of the experiment only now that the project has been prematurely terminated is it a waste of money.

  10. What a travisty to take out the pilot project when the government wants people living above the proverty line. It helps for them to not living under stress and to be able to living a more and better lifestyle.

  11. I am a student at university with a two semesters of UNPAID 40 hour a week placements. I worked on weekends making $670 a month to keep my head above water.

    Rent at a student house is $450, insurance on my car is $130, my phone bill is $45. I barely ate and went to every free food program at my university, I also dipped into my savings to afford gas to go to my unpaid placement. I never left my apartment unless I went to placement, my part time job, or for a walk if I had time.

    I found out I got into the pilot in January 2018. Since then I have had a cushion to finish my first semester of unpaid placement, afford groceries, gas, and buy a new laptop that I desperately needed.
    For those of you wondering, I was renting out a laptop every day at my university for a whole semester. I renewed the rental every two days, most of the time another student needed it so I would have to wait until it got returned.

    Next summer, I planned to open up a business after I finished my four years at university. A nature therapy program for young adults.

    Cancelling the Ontario Basic Income Pilot Project before it’s promised deadline date is going to pull the rug right beneath my feet as I enter into my second semester of unpaid placement. I hope that the pilot can be saved for the sake of mine and all other participants who put their trust into the government, and it can finish its three year course so that it can offer its research and discoveries to all countries/provinces or states who wish to pursue a Basic Income.

  12. I too am a recipient of the basic income project. I have worked hard all my life, supported my family when my husband was injured and still is unable to work. I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer , and so am now on disability as well. It was almost impossible to make ends meet, and then we were accepted into the BIPP. I could go for chemo without having to worry about having enough money for gas, I could eat healthy, and the stress was less. Now I am already worrying about paying bills. I emailed Laurie Scott and received a vague answer about the program will be cancelled “respectfully “. How can we feel respected when we’ve already been lied to.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*

Latest from Columnists

Go to Top