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$200 million class action filed over basic income

in Poverty Reduction/Provincial by

The Advocate has learned that the four participants in the province’s basic income pilot project are seeking $200 million in general damages. To that end, they have filed a multi-million class-action lawsuit against the Ford government over its early cancellation of the project.

The lawsuit, filed with the court in Lindsay, alleges the government breached its contract with the pilot project’s 4,000 participants in the communities of Lindsay, Thunder Bay and Hamilton. The plaintiffs also claim the government was negligent and breached its undertaking and common law duties in deciding to cancel the project only one year into its three-year term.

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‘Demonstrate that you truly have the concerns of your constituents at heart’

in Poverty Reduction/Provincial by
There has been no attempt at communication even by phone, email, or through her staff. Photo: Roderick Benns

On Day Three of a protest to seek an apology for the premature cancellation of basic income, the question on many people’s minds is just where is local MPP Laurie Scott anyway?

The question comes not only from the protesters, led by local lawyer and social worker Mike Perry, but also from many of her constituents through letters to the editor and social media. While most people recognize she has duties and obligations at Queen’s Park in Toronto, there has been no attempt at communication even by phone, email, or through her staff.

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Protesters hold ‘sit-in’ at MPP’s office, wait for apology from Ford minister

in Poverty Reduction/Provincial by
basic income pilot protesters

Lawyer and social worker Mike Perry led a small but determined group to hold a sit-in at the office of local MPP Laurie Scott Monday morning.

Protesters are demanding an apology from the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, Lisa MacLeod, for the government’s treatment of participants in the basic income pilot program.

After peacefully protesting outside for a while, Perry and a small cadre went inside to tell a staff member of Scott’s that they were there to ask for an apology – and that they were going to wait in her office until they got a response. The surprised staffer quickly retreated, ostensibly to make a phone call.

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Protest in front of Scott’s office to coincide with final basic income payment

in Poverty Reduction/Provincial by
Scott's office when it was vandalized last October.

A protest is being planned outside of local MPP Laurie Scott’s office Monday morning to coincide with the the final payment of the Ontario Basic Income Program.

An event notice being shared around on social media suggests people show up to “protest the early final payment of the basic income and demand an apology from Minister (Lisa) McLeod for how basic income participants have been treated.”

The event notice for the 9:30 am protest says to bring family, friends, and signs and notes that this is a “peaceful, democratic demonstration.”

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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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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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Local Family Health Team saves Urgent Care more than $700,000

in Community/Health by

A costing by the City of Kawartha Lakes Family Health Team has revealed that the team has saved the health care system more than $700,000 since 2014 through its emergency room and after hours clinic diversion programs.

Under these programs, the team’s health care professionals assess whether their care and treatment of the patient in the family health team offices resulted in the patient not having to go to the emergency department or attend local after hours clinics.

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Legal Action on Basic Income ongoing, says lawyer Mike Perry

in Around Town/Community/Education/Health/Poverty Reduction by
Tracey Mechefske, Dana Bowman, Lawyer Mike Perry, Lindsay Advocate Publisher Roderick Benns, when the lawsuit was first announced. Photo: Trevor Hutchinson.

The legal action against the Ontario government for cancelling the basic income pilot project is continuing on track, according to Lindsay lawyer Mike Perry.

The legal action is proceeding on two fronts. The first is a request to the court to overturn the Minister’s decision to cancel the pilot project. Originally scheduled to be heard in October, the matter will now be heard in Ontario Superior Court (Divisional Court) in late January, 2019.

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