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Perry says focus now on class action lawsuit in wake of basic income cancellation

in Poverty Reduction by
Mike Perry, left, with two of the four applicants, Tracey Mechefske and Dana Bowman.

In light of an Ontario court decision that states it has no authority to force the PC government to continue with basic income, the focus now turns to the class action lawsuit.

This, according to Mike Perry, the Lindsay-based lawyer and social worker who took on this case pro bono.

“While the applicants are understandably disappointed with today’s decision, they respect the court and the legal process and have asked me to thank the court for its consideration of their application,” Perry tells the Advocate.

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Court has ‘no authority’ to quash PC decision to cancel basic income; ruling has ‘no effect’ on possible class action lawsuit

in Poverty Reduction by
Class action lawsuit applicants Tracey Mechefske, Dana Bowman, Lawyer Mike Perry, Lindsay Advocate Publisher Roderick Benns, when the lawsuit was first announced.

It was not the kind of Valentine’s Day gift supporters of basic income were looking for.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice Divisional Court says the court has no authority to force the PC government to continue funding the Ontario Basic Income Pilot program.

In their decision Justices Thorburn, Reid, and Myers write, that “the pilot program is a government funding decision…this court has no power to review the considerations which motivate a cabinet policy decision.”

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The 4 key ways basic income changed people’s work lives for the better

in Community/Education/Poverty Reduction by
Back to school and new business start-ups were just two ways basic income was helping.

While the federal government may be considering the merits of a basic income for Canadians, those participating in the Ontario pilot know already how it was changing their lives for the better.

In fact, there were four key ways basic income directly affected people’s work lives, according to survey information – more learning and education; affordability of transportation; starting or maintaining a business; and childcare.

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Basic income judicial review: A view from the gallery

in Community/Health/Local News/Poverty Reduction by

Monday, January 28. Outside it’s bitterly cold, winds swirl, and an Alberta Clipper is expected to bring up to 20 cm of snow. In Osgoode Hall’s courtroom number three all is calm and well-ordered. Tiers of dark wood benches line the room below a vaulted ceiling and an elaborate chandelier.

But there’s an air of expectancy: Basic Income is having its long-awaited day in court, and not just any court, but the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

The applicants are Dana Bowman, Grace Marie Doyle Hillion, Susan Lindsay, and Tracey Mechefske. Dana and Grace are in the gallery. They are being represented by Mike Perry, a qualified but not practicing lawyer. He’s dressed in robes borrowed from Lindsay lawyer Jason Ward. Mike is acting pro bono. All the other costs of bringing a case — filing fees, photocopying and printing, administrative support, expert fees and insurance — have been covered through a GoFundMe campaign launched last August. (As the hearing begins the amount raised sits at $9,770; the next day it will reach its $10,000 target, a total of 117 having made contributions).

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Court reserves judgment on basic income case

in Community/Poverty Reduction by
Tracey Mechefske, Dana Bowman, plaintiffs; lawyer and social worker Mike Perry; Advocate publisher Roderick Benns.

An Ontario Court has reserved judgment on the high profile basic income case which was argued by Kawartha Lakes lawyer and social worker Mike Perry in a Toronto court room today.

However, the court also recognized this was a time sensitive matter, given that the program will end as of March, 2019.

Many believe this will be a matter of days, not weeks, before the court rules.

The challenge heard today was the application for the court to overturn the decision to cancel the Ontario Basic Income Pilot. A pending class action lawsuit will only be heard if the court decides not to overturn the Province’s decision and the pilot doesn’t continue.

If needed, the court will later hear a class action lawsuit for damages over breach of contract for the new Ontario government cancelling the basic income pilot project prematurely.

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Basic income was helping with crushing cost of housing: Survey

in Community/Poverty Reduction by
More than 58 per cent of people collecting basic income were trying to change their housing situation, according to a new survey.

OBIP Chronicles — Finding affordable housing in Ontario hasn’t been easy for decades. Finding it in Kawartha Lakes has been even more difficult of late, with the 2018 figures showing a 1.5 per cent vacancy rate, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CHMC) 2018 fall report. A healthy vacancy rate is more like three per cent.

For people collecting basic income in Lindsay, Hamilton area, and Thunder Bay area, the pressures they were facing with housing costs were lessened with the new benefit they were receiving, although all of that is ending in March with the cancellation of the Ontario Basic Income Pilot.

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The economics of homelessness as basic income pilot winds down

in Community/Poverty Reduction by

Seventy-six years ago, an American psychologist named Abraham Maslow emphasized the process of growing and developing as a person in order to achieve one’s potential.

He called this process a ‘hierarchy of needs’ and, in a testament to common sense, said nothing was more important than basic physical requirements like food, water, sleep, and warmth, as well as safety and security.

Typically, most of us find these things in the security of our income and in the security of own home. When we can’t manage to secure these most basic of needs, though, we’re certainly not going to be able to grow any further as individuals, let alone make a contribution to society. In fact, we will become part of the pressure on our society’s health care system, on our social services, and on our policing and judicial systems.

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Mulhern, Doyle run for federal NDP nomination

in Community/Local News by
Barbara Doyle and James Mulhern are running for the local NDP nomination.

Well-known labour activist James Mulhern and community activist Barbara Doyle are throwing their hat in the ring to win the Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock nomination. NDP members will have the chance to vote for their candidate for the 2019 federal election during a nomination meeting on Feb. 23 at Community Care Village Housing in Lindsay, at 1 pm. The event is open to the public but only registered party members are eligible to vote.

Mulhern, who is president of the Lindsay and District Labour Council, has lived in Lindsay for most of his life. He has worked in a number of fields from general labourer, painter, security, food service, health care, and presently, as a custodian.

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Poverty to hope and back again: Study reveals why basic income held such promise

in Community/Poverty Reduction by
Many participants were at extreme risk of homelessness before they enrolled in the Ontario pilot.

Study results from the Ontario Basic Income Pilot’s baseline survey have now been released, revealing the stories of participants who were hoping to break the cycle of poverty, find better jobs and opportunities, stabilize their housing, and improve their health and well-being.

The baseline survey was conducted by an arms-length, independent evaluation team led by St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. Under the initial agreement signed by enrollees, the descriptive statistics were to be made available to pilot participants who requested the survey results (no personal information was included).

When entering the basic income pilot, a large majority (81 per cent of participants) were in moderate or severe psychological distress. Inadequate access to health care was also identified by many: 40 per cent had unmet health care needs (most often because of costs, such as for medication) and less than half of participants had visited a dentist in the year prior to joining the basic income pilot. Chronic pain, mental health illness and mobility challenges were some of the disabilities basic income enrollees listed.

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‘Worried’ and ‘betrayed’: 60 per cent had to cancel plans after basic income cancelled

in Community/Health/Local News/Poverty Reduction by
Kyle is in his 30s and he’s married with a new baby. He works 50 hours per week but still qualified for a basic income top-up.

OBIP Chronicles — More than 82 per cent of people who were receiving money through the Ontario Basic Income Pilot said they felt “worried” when they heard it was cancelled and another 76 per cent felt “betrayed.”

More than 1,500 of the 4,000 basic income pilot recipients agreed to help the Basic Income Canada Network and the Ontario Basic Income Network continue working for a basic income. BICN conducted a survey of those people. Well over 400 responses have already come back, representing more than 10 per cent of those receiving basic income in Ontario, allowing us to write this special series. The Lindsay Advocate, working in cooperation with BICN, is pleased to be the media partner highlighting these stories. Names have been changed to protect identities.

Jean, who is married with one child, says she had tried starting her own business with the additional income she was receiving.

“The company has not had enough time to get going…I had felt I had the Ontario Basic Income Program to back me, as I had been told I would,” she says in the survey.

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