Basic income class action lawsuit can proceed: Ontario Court of Appeal

By Roderick Benns

Dismissal of basic income class action lawsuit to be appealed  
The Toronto law firm Cavalluzzo LLP Barristers & Solicitors that is arguing the case on behalf of the four Lindsay plaintiffs. Photo: Roderick Benns.

In a turn-of-events basic income supporters were hoping for, the Ontario Court of Appeal has determined that the class action lawsuit launched by four Lindsay residents who were enrolled in the Ontario Basic Income Pilot can proceed against the province.

A lower court judge had earlier refused to certify the class in his ruling. However, in yesterday’s appeal ruling this decision was overturned.

If a lawsuit is certified, the plaintiffs still must win on the merits by having the key questions (like, was there a contract?) answered in favour of the class. When a court does not certify a class action, then that means the class action cannot proceed at all.

Kaley Duff, lawyer at Cavalluzzo LLP Barristers & Solicitors.

Kaley Duff, one of the lawyers with the Toronto law firm Cavalluzzo LLP Barristers & Solicitors that is arguing the case, told the Advocate that they “are very pleased with the result of the appeal.”

“The Ontario Court of Appeal agreed with us that our claim in contract disclosed a reasonable cause of action,” said Duff in an email exchange.

“The next step will be to return to the Superior Court, where we will argue the remaining issues on certification. If we are successful, then the action will be certified as a class action.”

The lawsuit was initiated by four Lindsay residents — Dana Bowman, Grace Marie Doyle Hillion, Susan Lindsay, and Tracey Mechefske.

Mike Perry, a local lawyer and social worker, initially took on the task of launching the class action lawsuit.

“This is some good news for (nearly) 2,000 people here in our area. It means there is still hope for this being made right for our local families, friends, and neighbours who got thrown back into poverty when the basic income was canceled mid-stream,” Perry says.

Later Cavalluzzo LLP took over. The plaintiffs argued through their lawyers that the early termination of the Ontario Basic Income Pilot’s payments amounted to “a breach of contract, a breach of undertaking, negligence…and a breach of section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms — and that as a result they have suffered damages.”

The re-elected Conservative government cancelled the Ontario Basic Income Pilot in one of the first policy decisions the government made when it came to office in 2018 — despite a campaign promise to let the three-year pilot play out.

In a previous interview with the Advocate, Bowman says the “rug was pulled out from under us” when Ford cancelled the pilot, “and I will not forget that day, how it affected me and others around me.”

The pilot was initiated by the province in 2017 under the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne. It was set up in three areas – Hamilton region, Thunder Bay area, and Lindsay. Almost 4,000 people were involved, with 1,840 participants from Lindsay. It was set to run for three years. Payments ended prematurely in March of 2019, leaving hundreds of people scrambling.

Speaking on behalf of her law firm, Duff says “we look forward to continuing the fight on behalf of the class members across Ontario.”


  1. Rick Fawcett says:

    For every $1 someone who doesn’t work gets. Someone has to work for free.

  2. Tom Pogson says:

    For every dollar of the Canada Child Benefit 2 dollars of economic activity happens.
    Our income is not only a result of ourselves, but the generations that have come before. They invested on public infrastructure that companies use to make more profit. Meanwhile how does it help to live in a city racked with poverty? We can either but more security systems or invest in where we live.

  3. Kim says:

    I think our government is totally corrupt. Promises just to get into power then withdrawing. People are not stupid like politicians think, we are trusting and this is what corrupt politicians do. They should be ashamed and jailed !

  4. Susan Lord says:

    The CCB is a joke.
    They used to have a slogan, something to the effect of “Going to the Children that Need it Most”.
    Single parents in receipt
    of decent child support and alimony, were staying home, perhaps working part time at best – Versus a single parent having to work full time; yet receiving lower CCB!! Why?
    Because child support and alimony were excluded from their total income.🤬

    • Bill says:

      Yours is the politics of envy. Everyone should get a basic income, which the government can claw back if they have earned income that puts them above a certain level o income. e.g. a banker would have to return all of it, while a Tim Hortons worker would keep all of it.

  5. Alesha says:

    Doug was born with a silver spoon in his mouth what does he know about poverty nothing?? He wants to build highways and create jobs right that’s great when people can’t even afford gas the high inflation is driving people deeper into poverty and he comes into power and cancels the program he is a extended version of the Mike Harris government basically hates poor people!! Well Doug you will see a lot more poverty with the high inflation people can’t even afford gas do get to work, and also Doug also thinks that people with with disabilities should get a job, well Doug how about all the parents stuck with adults with autism cause they can’t get their own place because the lack of funds ODSP parents that have raised them are stuck with them causing further burdens to keep them and pay out their own pocket cause what they provide for disabilities could but stuff in the thirties not todays inflation will pay for squat!! Stop the hating of the poor and people with disabilities and start helping! Great country poverty is growing and this government is worried about other countries sending other countries money, fix your own countries problems this is disgusting!!

  6. Kevin cowie says:

    We all should paddle our own canoe ,, but sometimes we break a paddle or get a leak and may need some help , no boat is perfect

  7. Susan says:

    What would it mean for the people that it just stoped ….. all this is to finish off paying them if something happens for the good …. Win this case

  8. Jessica Bourgeois says:

    Attempting to help an ODSP recipient at this moment. Doug Ford’s government is the most corrupt, violating basic human rights and human dignity in allowing only $1200 monthly total to live. Dollar beer, licence plates we cannot read, better booze access, and seniors bodies piled high during covid. He is not stupid, the Ontario voters who put him to power are. They worship their money-god. I so wish I could leave Canada. Trapped here. LGBTQ2 assaults, The Fruit Machine, Residential schools, Japanese Internment, Chinese Head Tax, Highway of Tears, I am so ashamed to say to the world “I am Canadian”

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