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"It will be devastating."

Heart-breaking stories pour into Advocate as PCs break basic income promise

in Community/Health/Poverty Reduction by

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.

The basic income pilot project, which launched last year and was set to run for three years, provided payments to 4,000 low-income people in Lindsay, Hamilton area, and Thunder Bay. Single participants receive up to $16,989 a year while couples receive up to $24,027, less 50 per cent of any earned income. Statistics released by the previous government showed that about two thirds of those enrolled in the program had a job.

Anne Grozelle contacted the Advocate and said the decision by the government is going to turn her life upside down.

“It will be devastating, coming around the time my dependant turns 18. So I lose $700 (without basic income) and shortly after almost $800 because he will be 18.”

Grozelle says she rents and pays all the utilities.

“My child wants to go to college close to home and I will be supporting him without that $1,500 that I depend on now. I am diabetic and now will have to go back to eating the trashy food afforded on ODSP. How can we even afford to move anywhere cheaper?”

Kathy McCabe says basic income was providing her with that little extra “to help me make ends meet.”

“I work full time but only make ten cents above minimum wage. After paying my bills and living paycheque to paycheque I was able to afford groceries but not healthy choices. Once I started receiving basic income I was able to afford healthier choices,” she says.

McCabe says Premier Doug Ford “needs to sit down and rethink his decision to cut this program.”

“What happened to his motto “here for the people?’”

Catherine Webb Widjedal told the Advocate via social media that the people she knew on basic income were “hard working people in low paying jobs.” These were people who “planned the next three years of their life on this monthly money and now this is literally taking food from the mouths of babes.”

Webb Widjedal says people should go see MPP Laurie Scott and she points out as Minister of Labour maybe Scott can let people know where are all these good, full-time jobs are in our area that can support families.

She also called for electoral reforms. “Mean spirited, hate driven, selfish policies will not support a nation.”

Ian McKechnie, who writes the monthly ‘Just in Time’ local history article for the Advocate, is also an historian at the Olde Gaol Museum in town. He was also collecting basic income.

McKechnie points out that recently Minister MacLeod stated that “The best social program is a job.”

“I fear, though, that the Ford government’s definition of a ‘job’ doesn’t include work in the cultural sector — despite ample evidence that investing in cultural heritage is good for local economies, for enhancing the public education sector, for drawing attention to marginalized topics and peoples. As Kawartha Lakes continues to attract retirees and families, a cultural economy will probably develop in earnest, and it’s high time that governments of all levels gave careful consideration to happily investing in such an economy.”

The local historian says ultimately he signed up for the Basic Income pilot project “because of a perennial failure on the part of government at all levels to invest consistently in the sort of work that myself and many other people in this community and elsewhere do. The work is there, the funding is not.”

Cheryl Inksetter Nobrega spoke to the Advocate via social media and noted it is the responsibility of those who live in a First World democracy to take care of their most vulnerable.

“Just because some of us are privileged enough to make more money than these people doesn’t mean we deserve it more. We should always remember that it’s simply luck that keeps us separated from those who can’t fend for themselves.”

Nobrega says it was “obviously a means of buying votes for Ford as well because he promised to keep it and many people voted for him for that reason, and now they are heart broken and will be worse off because of the commitments they have made based on this three-year basic income guarantee.

Nobrega says all the money that has been put into the start-up and implementation of the basic income program would be lost if they scrap it, and “that is a waste of tax payers money, not the program itself.”

“Calling people lazy and telling them to get a job, showing their entitlement and…greed has just made it spiral even more towards feeling like this is a malicious attack on those less fortunate,” Nobrega says.

She says if MPP Laurie Scott is truly an advocate for those affected by human trafficking, then she will see that this could benefit those victims, along with many, many, others.

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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.

8 Comments

  1. It is not the job of our Government to create hardship on our people.

    Lower taxes, creating industry and commerce, and better jobs. Yes, but we need to carry our less fortunate until that is achieved.

  2. The government’s job is not to create hardship? Are you kidding me. The government (taxpayer) did NOT create these peoples circumstances to begin with. If you dont work or keep having kids you can’t afford, it’s your issue. It takes 2 to make these children… so both cant afford it? And dont forget baby bonus thanks to Trudeau goes up again to over 500 per child a month tax free…. then they get social assistance. . Free dental.. medication.. etc. Sounds like this is a good deal to me. I’ve raised a family on my own paychecks and still work all day every day… so it can be done you know. People just get used to be expecting to be taken care of. I struggle and work every day and do not pile my life on the taxpayer … I take care of my own.
    So I’m reading the crap… like my kid wants to go to college near me… well hey all my kids received OSAP and are paying it back… why should you expect this free pilot money to pay for your kids education… you need to do it!! And transportation to see your grandkids.. really? I budget my paycheck to purchase gas and insurance every month so I can get to my job and support your visiting your children omg.
    Get over the free money.. get damn jobs like the rest of us working poor do and take care of your own life and family. Stop being a burden and whining about the government cutting off your free money.. the pilot project. See your given free you expect more…. get off your carcass and work for it!!!!!!
    Sick of hearing this complaining.. it’s my hard earned money your taking when your saying “the government” do you get that. Your riding my back to support you… sick of it. There are jobs!! Lindsay Peterborough etc. Wake up in the morning.. put down your cigarettes and beer and look….
    I know there are situations that require assistance… I understand that but staying on assistance and keep having kids for more money is NOT a career move ladies. And the men your having these kids with? Where are they? And why cant they contribute and pay for daycare while you work? Or perhaps they dont work either smh.
    I for one say…. yes cut that gravy train off and put that money into programs instead… affordable housing and daycare , job training etc not the persons pocket. That doesnt help.. it’s just another hand out.
    So to respond to the last poster.. the government does not have to carry people because that’s actually people like me your talking about and we say…. if you cant help yourself stop expecting us to do it for you.

  3. To Taxpayers,
    Let me see,if you live in Ontario your getting OHIP. CPP one day,Old age.? If your super rich ,your covering your bills. Having babies,surgeries costs thousands of dollars. Most middle income earners, never pay enough to cover the costs for themselves, never mind their families or other Ontarians. Where do you think the rest of the money comes from.Taxes and revenue. All Ontarian’s receive Government handouts. You want to stop a program that will pull people out of poverty. A program that will give them a chance to get a job,go to school,have food on the table and some dignity. How do you get a job if you make 500 dollars a month . You can’t even get a place for that much ,never mind the tools to be successful at finding a job. All these people will be stuck,some homeless,some finding any way they can to survive. The disabled, they can’t get a job and they have to live off less then 800 a month. Anyone could end up where they are .In a blink of an eye. Take a look at these costs .Do you pay enough to cover your expenses. Or are you receiving a Government Handout ( $13,000. to 48,000 for a caesarian, Coronary artery bypass surgery averaged $45,438, back surgery in the United States was between$18,762 and $26,515) Open your eyes . YOur no better then the they are. Were all human . https://www.debt.org/medical/hospital-surgery-costs/

  4. poverty/homelessness are on the rise – ever hear of a homeless or destitute politician? I haven’t.
    Regardless of their ‘party’ politicians continue to cause havoc, and yes, do create financial hardship on the impoverished, as well the most vulnerable/marginalized.
    Looks like Taxpayer is indeed one privileged to not only obtain a job (not available to most people of color and indigenous folks – due to discrimination)
    So, being privileged, gives this person the right to put down others.
    Now that’s despicable.

  5. Behold the person above who calls himself “TaxpayerS” but only represents, as they clearly do with everything, like most people who copy and paste that same response, himself (one person) rather than all taxpayerS (not me for one), and does not acknowledge the access provided to them at all by the very society they think is giving free money to all poor people but them. It is important that these kinds of responses always think they are literally “paying for” everyone else because they are bitter from working like insects their whole lives, without it getting any better like their politicians promised, but are incapable of addressing where most money from taxpayers really goes, nor the tiny fraction that ever actually helps actual Canadian people.

    It’s not just YOU and your precious personal anecdotes that pay taxes, but a lot of us who pay but still think a civilized, evolved society does not divide people into “classes” of grubbing vermin vs lazy elites.

    How come your type does not mind the “Fords” and other real sponges of Canada to pay themselves a fortune out of your (you mean OUR) money to deliver work that they never do (having no experience being a regular Canadian of course), but have no problem blaming someone weak and even talk like people who are weak are always weak by their own fault. Like a lazy, greedy, POS who would sell their own child before admitting they ever needed help with anything. Thanks for putting in your bit of effort to hold back an entire culture’s advancement.

    Even if people are weak by their own fault, I assume that you feel those people and any family they have should just die the way you talk. I assume that would also mean you if you were injured so badly you lost your job, you were laid off from an industry that no longer needs your skills, were married and your spouse divorced you or passed away, got OLD and discovered in weakness that you didn’t have the support from your friends and relatives you thought you did, that somehow your magical powers of fortitude +3 would save you in a society that does not want people who fall into those categories and does everything that hurts them even more. The fact is, a lot of that misery is caused by people who act like you do, and that’s why there are more and more hurting people and why you say things like “I struggle and work every day” as if that is a good thing. Things never get better in a stratified society and you are only one step above that poor person who has zero access to education or even proper housing, food, or otherwise. You think you could handle that but you could not, no more than anyone else. That is why your type refuses to address that part. It’s always “them” to you until something happens to you, then you will want your family to take care of you, and if they can’t or won’t, you will think your need for social help is deserved, unlike anyone else’s need. If you are “I struggle and work every day” in Canada like you say..you are “struggling” then you are getting nowhere better as well, and are lazy and not trying hard enough by your own shitty attitude.

    This type of post naively and purposely glosses over the complexities of society, history, and the realities of human life because he is so busy congratulating himself that he cannot dare to suggest that anyone has less access to opportunity than he does, when really most people are either born to it, or trapped in it by tragic events, which sets off a cascade of disadvantage. You can’t say that anyone possibly could be working harder than yourself and have less money, or it makes them more deserving of a good life than you in your eyes (not everyone’s though – not mine).

    You dare tell people not to have children? One of the most fundamental biological drives of our species, and one that often happens when people are OK before a divorce, death, or disability/illness ruins that? who the hell do you think you are telling people that they MUST live as a couple to be worthy of survival anyway? Lots of people start off in their cozy middle “class” lives, having children and buying ridiculous wastes-of-money purchases, until something bad happens. Then wow you’re a single parent no matter what you did. Or wow you have cancer. Or wow you’re old. You don’t address reality on purpose to stroke your own ego. I’m sure you work your ass off, but aren’t getting rich now despite that are you?

    For that matter, people who are the stupid few ..even then are still Canadian PEOPLE..or still human. There are stupid politicians who make mindbogglingly stupid, selfish decisions, and who are lazy, and celebrities who are paid just to exist on our dime, yet that is fine with you to pay THEIR incomes. How come? Addressing why other people are trapped in a weakened state with no access like you had would also demand you address why it is that you crow about your complete independence and superiority over your weak neighbor, but have not been able to improve beyond that despite that. With everyone else being so damned “lazy” how is it with your brilliant godly work ethic and magical self-funding for children’s university, that you are not rich?

    Furthermore, I continue to fail to see what cigarettes and beer have to do with anything. Every income of people buys this crap? Most people who are low-income though can afford little or none of it and thus, cannot buy it. Or anything for that matter, such as an ice cream, a trip to a movie, eating in a restaurant (is that where all your money goes?) As someone who doesn’t buy it, it seems like everyone drinks except me regardless of whether a beer wastes what is left of their money or buying a fourth McPalace or gold-plated toilet does. Anedotally, I see “average income” (very average) people drinking a whole lot more..blue collar people like yourself. A poor person has the right to buy a 10.00 useless thing just as much as a rich sponge has to buy a fourth mercedes or gold plated toilet BTW. Why don’t you police yourself since again, weren’t you struggling? You must need to put your own cigarettes down or maybe you should stop buying gas for a car and use your own two feet, otherwise you deserve to struggle until you finally need your kids to take care of you (you will feel they owe you this at the time, of course).

    Disgusting. Tired of people preventing Canada from doing anything..ANYTHING..that might make something better for us as a whole society of people…education everyone, equalize our people so they can thrive, not just “struggle” like insects working hard to drag a dead thing back into the anthill day after day. Just make things worse and worse and even embarrassing because our people are treated like shit while we brag about how rich our country is. “to respond to the last poster” whom I can’t believe even cares enough about anything to post things about Canadian people’s concerns in the first place.

  6. Most of the people on the program are working. You seem proud to be working one of the working poor. This program would mostly benefit people who work and still find it hard to make ends meet. Jobs no longer provide the security and benefits of the past. The wage gap has become so extreme between workers and CEO’s that it’s just sad. A lot of companies would rather keep 10 part time employees instead of 5 full time in order to avoid paying benefits to most of their work force. So now people are jumping from 2 or three part time jobs with no security.
    You think all your taxes are going to people on assistance? That’s a very tiny proportion. Your attitude is why the government and businesses get away with doing heartless things like making people live a paycheck away from homelessness.
    You shouldn’t be proud to be working poor. Nobody with a job should still be poor in a society as rich as ours. If you can afford your rent and a car your not working poor. The working poor can only dream of owning a car. Rent and food is hard enough.
    We don’t live in a society where it’s everyone for themselves. YOU benefit from free healthcare and myriad of other things paid for by tax dollars. Your not single handedly paying these things by yourself. It’s US together. And together we take care of the less fortunate, the less healthy etc etc. And stop all this blaming single mothers as if that’s the drain on our economy! Maybe you want to live in a society where children that are born under less than ideal circumstances starve to death. I don’t. Maybe you think they should all be aborted if they aren’t guaranteed to have middle class parents. Maybe you think all poor people should be sterilized. How about this for a new way of looking at it? Poverty begets poverty. Stop blaming single moms for welfare. It’s so old. We have enough money to eradicate it if everyone stopped having your attitude. It’s sick.
    I wonder how your attitude would change if all of the sudden you couldn’t work for whatever reason and you HAD to live off assistance. I wonder if you would think it was a great free ride then EVEN WITH child tax credit and medicine and emergency dental.
    A few dozen Canadians make more than all the rest combined. Is that because they work harder and deserve it? No it’s because they pay poverty wages while keeping all the profits. A little redistribution of wealth would help EVERYONE including you. You would benefit from others around you living less stressful lives. Less pressure on healthcare. More people able to start businesses or get education. Less poverty means less crime. Less mental health issues. Less desperate youth turning to crime and stealing your car or breaking into your house. Or shooting up a school.
    Why do feel it’s noble to struggle?
    Don’t you want to be able to go to work for 8 hours and get paid enough that you know you can afford your house and car and childcare and saving for retirement and a vacation once in a while? Maybe a night out for dinner. A movie? A coffee? Simple pleasures in life?
    Most working poor can’t do any of that. Most jobs don’t pay enough to live that life anymore. They used to. Not anymore though.
    Everyone wants to say social assistance is a nice free ride. It’s not. It leaves people on the very edge. I guess you don’t remember what it was like before that social safety net was implemented?
    Picture what would happen to the crime rate if it disappeared. It would skyrocket and so would every other societal ill.
    Those that can’t work should live with at least enough for dignity. And those that do work should be able to afford a decent life.
    Most of us are working ourselves to death and still struggling. Something is wrong. We should all be able to contribute to society while living a decent life and taking care of the less fortunate.
    Not working as cogs in machine to enrich the 1%.

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