City of Kawartha Lakes Mayor Andy Letham, Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger along with Chris Friel, Mayor of Brantford, and Keith Hobbs, Mayor of Thunder Bay, issued a joint letter to Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development expressing their concern with the sudden cancellation of the Basic Income Pilot Program and their united request to the Federal Government to assume oversight of the project.
As a Scot and a leading Basic Income advocate, I was delighted to see the leadership of Ontario demonstrated in initiating experiments to test out the concept in the Province. Given our cultural and historical links, there was a huge amount that we could tap into, allowing a chance to shape the pilots which we are also developing in Scotland.
In particular, the harnessing of civic society and communities was particularly inspiring, and a motivator to do the same in our context – truly making an experiment for everyone, not just academics or policy makers.
The fight for basic income has moved to the courts. An intent to file a class action lawsuit against the Province for its cancellation of the Ontario Basic Income Pilot has been filed by several parties in Lindsay.
On Saturday morning 273 cyclists experienced the countryside up-close, rolling along the quiet back roads that knit together our region. It was the 15th Annual Kawartha Lakes Classic Cycling Tour, a fundraiser for A Place Called Home.
Cyclists had come from as far away as Ottawa and Niagara; in fact, roughly half were visiting from outside Kawartha Lakes. (Days Inn was the official hotel sponsor).
When they registered, the cyclists chose a distance, each with its own route. For the experienced and ambitious there were 100 and 160 km routes. A 50 km route wound its way to Woodville and back. And the 25 and 13 km tours made use of sections of the Kawartha TransCanada Trail. All departed from Boston Pizza (which, along with Canadian Tire, was an official sponsor).
Many of us who work at The Advocate spend a lot of time thinking about how life could be better for people in our Kawartha Lakes community, and for all Canadians. That is, how do we achieve a more equitable society, within a capitalism framework, where there isn’t such a great chasm between the wealthiest and the poorest?
When we consider these questions we refer to the kind of wealth that defies all sense of decency. As of June 8 last year, the world’s richest five men owned over $400 billion in wealth. Thus, on average, each man owns nearly as much as 750 million people.
As I wrote in a feature story in last month’s Advocate, too many of us from all political stripes seem to believe that the ‘free market’ needs to be left alone to do its thing to make lives better for people. It is the ‘trickle down’ lie that has been perpetuated for decades, all the while inequality continues to increase.
The local Health Unit is strongly urging the Ontario government to reverse course and at least see the Basic Income Guarantee through to the end of its original three-year pilot phase.
A letter containing this message has been sent to the provincial government on behalf of the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge (HKPR) Board of Health, which in 2016 endorsed a position statement calling for a Basic Income Guarantee pilot program in Ontario. The position statement cited the fact that eliminating poverty is an urgent public health issue, as people on low income are more likely to have health problems and die younger than people with higher income.
Just two days ago over the long weekend the Lindsay Advocate invited municipal candidates to share their opinion about the pilot’s cancellation. The Advocate also invited them to the basic income rally being held Aug. 7 at 12:30 pm in Victoria Park.
Pat Warren, candidate for Ward 6, says she may be unable to make the rally on Tuesday but says it was “unfortunate that the pilot project was cancelled.”
Local MPP and Minister of Labour Laurie Scott says there were “too many concerns” about the Ontario Basic Income Pilot to let it go on — but then also noted if it were successful it would have been too expensive to implement Ontario-wide.
Scott, who was responding to questions provided by the Lindsay Advocate, made the seemingly contradictory remarks in her emailed response, although she wasn’t the only one. The lead minister on this file, Lisa MacLeod, said the same thing yesterday, in an effort to stem the growing pressure to see the decision reversed.
As advocates, we are fighting hard to keep the basic income program alive here in Lindsay. We are heartened by the strong support coming in, and yet we are also dismayed by comments that constantly circle around two big lies.
One is the idea that we can’t afford the pilot program.
The other is that the poor are ultimately lazy.
They are young and old, parents and grandparents. They are business owners who needed a leg up and disabled people who thought they had a chance to live in dignity, thanks to the Ontario Basic Income Program.
Instead, they have been blind-sided by an ideological decision from the new Progressive Conservative government to cancel a three-year-pilot already underway — but advocates aren’t giving it up without a fight. Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa MacLeod has admitted to media this is the first broken promise of the new PC government. Meanwhile, The Lindsay Advocate has yet to hear from local MPP Laurie Scott who was recently appointed Minister of Labour in the new government.