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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.

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

in Community/Health/Local News/Poverty Reduction by

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.

“Now, my children and I may lose our home.”

Jean says she saw the program as the chance to “help better not only my life but my children’s and my community.”

“It is truly a disappointment to have so much hope and then have it taken away,” she says.

Jean was open to the idea that there should have been more supports put in place for to help educate people what to do with their finances.  While she’s grateful for the support she did get, she says the changes she has made in her own life prove that people can succeed with just a little help.

“I truly hope that this program will find a way to stay in place and spread around the country to allow others to get there lives back in order.”

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. This is part of the unfortunate circumstances of our economy over the past few decades, as increasing corporate wealth has coincided with decreased wages for the lower income Canadians. Working full time is no longer a guarantee of being able to support oneself or one’s family.

“I was planning on buying a car this year. Not anymore obviously,” he says in the survey, given the cancellation of the pilot.

In fact, more than 60 per cent of those surveyed said they had to cancel or change their plans because of the premature cancellation of the basic income pilot.

Kyle was looking to afford a proper home for his new young family. Even though he got shingles from the stress of working so much he was thankful to be able to afford the medication to help with it.

Now, he feels “disgusted, alone, terrified.”

“Where are we going to live? How could I possibly come up with first and last (month’s rent) somewhere?” He worries he will have to move to a more unsavoury part of the city.

Donna is in her 50s and was on ODSP before the basic income pilot came along with its enhanced amount.

When she was on basic income she did not have to worry how she was going to feed her children or pay her bills,” she says.

“I was able to take better care of my child and myself. The relief helped, (there was) less stress.”

Donna says she planned out her three-year goals with what she was receiving to repair her house, which her father had left for her after he died.

“I will not be able to insulate properly or do the rest of the things in my plans. I feel lost now as to how I can maintain the home without depriving my son or myself of food and necessities to live.”

The Ontario Basic Income Pilot was initiated by the Province in 2017 in three areas – Hamilton region, Thunder Bay area, and Lindsay. Four thousand people were involved, with 2,000 of them in Lindsay to see if there would be a community-wide effect, given the smaller population (20,000 people) of the Kawartha Lakes centre. It was set to run for three years. When the PC government was elected in the summer of 2018, it cancelled the program despite a campaign promise to allow it to continue, announcing that payments will only run until March of 2019.

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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.


  1. How about instead of talking about it use their voices and do something about it if this percentage is suffering then go fight it fight the battle to get it back you can post as many stories sad as they are but that doesn’t change anything unless people use their voices and a backbone to fight the government that’s the only option we have left as disabled people we have a right to stand up for ourselves the government has no right to treat us like third world citizens or that we don’t exist at all some of us are taxpayers what a shocker if we all stopped paying taxes again talking about it sure doesn’t help really getting out there and doing something about it that’s what matters

  2. These people do realize BI was a trial right? Listening to these stories, you would think it was already a permanent program. What were they going to do after 3 years when the pilot was finished? Protest? Demand continued funding? It is not your money! It was a bad program and I’m glad it was cancelled.

  3. Yes, basic income was a trial. But it was a 3-year trial, not a 3-month trial, or a 1-year trial, etc. It takes time to make significant life changes and it usually takes some money, too. Since you seem keen on economic-based arguments only, if we continue to let people be mired in poverty we will continue to pay more in downstream costs…more hospital visits, more mental health and anxiety, more expensive homelessness, less educated people which will equal less opportunities…and the cycles continue. Let’s take a longer view and recognize that what we are doing now isn’t working. Time to try something new — and that has economic benefits for all of us. As Evelyn Forget writes: The Parliamentary Budget Office estimated the net costs of a Canada-wide basic income modelled on the Ontario proposal at $44-billion annually. This did not take into account the money that might be saved by other social programs such as health care if poverty is adequately addressed, or the reduced need for provincial income assistance and disability-support programs. If the $20-billion that the provinces collectively spend on income assistance and disability support could be used to fund the basic income, the remaining cost would be $24-billion – remarkably close to what the Canada Child Benefit costs each year.” So we can afford a basic income and we can save money in the long run doing it.

  4. It’s a good life lesson. Go get some edumocations, produce something of value (first and foremost, your labour), and make your own way. Stop planning your future on my hard earned money

  5. The people who are against UBI don’t seem to understand the economics.

    Elon Musk & Richard Branson believe it’s one of the only sustainable paths forward. Hell, even Richard Nixon supported it!! He tried to get a bill passed for a guaranteed income!

    Tech will eliminate vast numbers of jobs. What’s your plan to deal with it? Stop progress for a shitty paycheck? Or transform our economy and enhance our freedom?

    UBI is the future, folks. Get on the right side of history

    • Stop your fear mongering about what may or may not happen in the future and get a job. The BI program only encourages laziness. No wonder you support it.

  6. I work and receive BI, I also have a child. Even with 2 college degrees finding a job that pays a living wage is near impossible. Along with paying daycare, travel costs and apt insurance, school debt etc . I understand there may be people abusing every system but not everyone. What people do not seem to understand is that people had to apply and were choosen based on alot of factors. They wanted individuals who had goals and were more likely to leave the system altogether. Now your going to have a larger amount of people back on ow and odsp if they were not able to achieve their goals before the end of the program. Time to up living wages and job opportunities or the system will just get worse.

  7. Hi I am on the basic income pilot I have returned back to college now with the program comming to a end I will have to drop back out school with more debt than originally had thank you government

    • If you were really serious you would find a way to finish the college program and not blame the government for your problems. Try OSAP.

  8. In the face of the program’s cancellation someone should tell Donna that if she is low income then she may qualify for an energy conservation program to cover the costs of insulating her home. She should google it, I know several people who have qualified for that as well as new appliances.

    As for Mike above he should look into OSAP. That is how many of us have paid for our education. In fact people from low income families now qualify for free tuition. Yes it’s had to cover the costs of life while attending school but there are grants, bursaries, and jobs. It’s a struggle I know but possible.

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