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Tracey Mechefske, Dana Bowman, plaintiffs; lawyer and social worker Mike Perry; Advocate publisher Roderick Benns.

Court reserves judgment on basic income case

in Community/Poverty Reduction by

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.

In April of last year, the Ontario Liberal government announced it would be testing a new social program – basic income – in Hamilton area, Lindsay and Thunder Bay area. The program provided up to $16,989 per year to about 4,000 Ontario residents who qualified, with no stipulation as to employment status.

On July 31, the Ford government announced the basic income pilot program was to be cut. The government later specified the program will end as of March, 2019. Nearly 2,000 of the participants were from Lindsay.

The basic income has had a profound impact on participants. One of the representative plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Tracey Mechefske of Lindsay, had used the additional income to pay marketing and sales space fees for her small business. Now she will soon not be able to purchase the supplies to make her products to sell.

Another plaintiff, Grace Hillion, was able to enroll in school to train in broadcasting. Hillion had planned the tuition payments on three years of basic income.

Participants from Hamilton and Thunder Bay have shared similar stories – buying more professional clothing for work, putting their car back on the road to job hunt, feeding their kids better, renting a safer apartment (with windows) – which reveal how the basic income pilot had been working to inspire people, get them back included in society, and break the cycle of poverty.

As basic income recipient and plaintiff in the lawsuits, Dana Bowman, shares: “I felt accountable again. I was more independent and felt more self-worth as I could budget my finances rather than having no extra money after rent and a bit of food each month on ODSP. I paid my bills and was able to join my working friends for lunch sometimes. I was also looking into a two-year college program to get back working and help 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.

26 Comments

  1. There should be Universal basic income, not just Ontario, Canada. As long as cost of living keeps increasing , so must people’s money. “The current system is not sustainable/ we need a sustainable system”. – the P.C voter who signed me up.

  2. Cancellation of the GIPP is just another vicious, heartless attack on the powerless poor, perpetrated by the Ontario PC gov’t. Glad to see that at least someone has the fortitude and ability to take Ford and rest of the bastards to task. And god bless the lawyers who agreed to work pro bono.

    PS .. had to search really hard on the computer to find this brief report / update.. Nothing on my homepage, nothing on bing search, nothing on nightly news either. That fact oughta tell y’all something.

  3. You Know, before Doug Ford took over our MPP, Laurie Scott spoke strongly about the positive changes the program would bring to individuals and families and the community at large. Now she is Minister of Labour; a position from which she should be able to exert some leverage to support the BI program.
    It’s clear that people accessing BI are doing exactly what was hoped for – taking action to escape poverty or working poor conditions. Laurie Scott you know tbis to be true. So why are you missing in action? Lindsay people are YOUR constituents. The people you are supposed to support.
    Laurie, you have been the MPP here for a long time. This is the FIRST REAL OPPORTUNITY for you to do something of lasting benefit for people in your riding. Grow a backbone, quit repeating the party talking points AND FIGHT TO KEEP BI BECAUSE IT WORKS !

  4. A big thank you to all who are involved and for caring showing compassionate behavior to help bring a positive outcome .thanks kindly for your empathy.

  5. A big thank you to all who are involved and fighting for us and caring and doing this out your own kind hearts I truly appreciate it it has helped me and my little boy big time eating healthier being able do lot of activities list goes on it helps in tremendous way wwhen I’m on odsp you can’t get all that your lucky if you have some money left after the Bill’s Doug ford you should not promised all these people that you would not touch it let it play it course and see if it works low income people matter to dont promise something then not keep it thankyou for all who is fighting for all of us from bottom of my heart thankyou

  6. The trust level is so low for those let down by the Basic Income cancellation that suspicions abound. If participants are being called to arrange re-intake or enrollment in OSDP and OW this seems unusual. Wonder if Mike Perry has a thought on whether quick reinstatement of benefits might deter any type of law suite.

  7. Thank you for everything you are doing for us .. without the basic income pilot program I wouldn’t have been able to go back to school to better my future .. I hope and pray all works out for all us who are in the program

  8. l hope they do cancel most of the people were on it just sat back and didn’t do anything what about the people who did not get the basic income we are suffering a lot more then you are
    they just bought booze and drugs and sat back and waited for there extra money to come in every month they didn’t go looking for a job they did nothing

    • Why didn’t you apply Sharon? Probably a very small percentage of people did do just that and perhaps more screening could have played more of a role in selecting participants. From what I have seen it was mostly families and individuals who really needed some help and made arrangements for improving their lives and moving forward instead of going backwards and ending up on the street. Once the program is closed you’ll see much more poverty on the street. Would that be a better result for you?

    • You are putting everyone in Lindsay that receives the BI in the same category. I work full time at my job and have for 15yrs and yet still have a hard time making ends meet. Besides the people working full time or part time had a higher percentage than non working or people on ODSP. Maybe you should read the facts before assuming everyone receiving BI is just sitting back waiting for their check every month.

  9. Just sitting around? Maybe the people you were referring to we’re healing in a less frightened manner. Do you not realize that this program will also help you in the future? Please take off the hate filled glasses so you can see reality of the need of this program for so many.

  10. Laurie Scott actually supported the idea of the program and Mr Ford promised he wouldn’t cut it. I voted PC based on Lauries support and Mr Ford’s promise. I will never vote PC again. No support for the people who need it. Ontario is becoming a Trump like state. Shame on you Laurie Scott.

  11. Both my husband and I are unable to work and receive BI, since being on it we have been able to rent a much cleaner, safer apartment in a better neighbourhood then when we were on ODSP. We have also been eating a lot better and treat ourselves once in a while. If BI is cancelled I am afraid we will end up homeless again because we won’t be able to afford to live where we are. I know there are a lot of others on BI that face the same fears. I really hope that the judge is able to make a difference.

  12. I have a question.

    In Morris’ coverage of the judicial review hearing, he says the government argued the government’s decision was not subject to judicial review because it was a policy decision. Is it the Crown’s position that policies and policy decisions are not the jurisdiction of judicial review? Anyone?

  13. Im on bi and i know a lot of people who are recieving bi and i don,t see the abuse sure there can be a couple of bad apples in the program just like any thing else in life i think the big problem is the public has very little insite of what program is about i told very few people i was on bi because i new alot of peole in my town have a negative outlook towards bi.It,s funny because alot of people fall for all the lies and propaganda the pc .s and Laurie Scott funny thing nobody seen hide nor hair of sense people started protesting on office door step these people say there for the im people oh sorry i forgot,pc goverment is only for corp. scum kill of the poor and struggling families .Don,t Laurie Scott can look in the mirror in the morning let alone show her face in lindsay. Hope these people never get in power again they kill this province one person at a time.

  14. I’m on bi and I have to live with my daughter because I can’t afford to live anywhere I’m a single person and ow doesn’t give you much to live on at least with bi it gave more to live on so thanks ford and PC I’m back to work with health problems and pain because you don’t look at the bigger picture

  15. #1- ty to Mr Perry and all your support is invaluable
    #2-I was on odsp and when I asked about going on BI I was told by worker that “It isnt a good program for you to be on.Just stay with O.D.S.P.” that was Dec 2017.
    Then in April 2018 I decided to visit the info session. After reviewing with a very knowledgeable govt intake person I applied. on May 15 2018 I received a cheque , I went directly to withdraw from O.D.S.P . they where all smiles until I gave them my letter, their attitude changed. 1 month later received notice that I had to payback Aprils payment, they took my tax refund.also reported it to credit agencies.JUNE 1
    #3- Recd 2 payments before “Mini Trump”( Mr Ford ), threw a woman under the bus that it was being cancelled! No

    As to Ms. Scott, whom we only see either in the house of commons ,or at a press release.
    There she is to the right of the Premies shoulder,looking like a love sick puppy.

    I had to move lld sold house, cheapest I found was $1050. and had to take it, as no affordable housing and no rent controll NO housing
    I am not looking forward to re-applying for O.D.S.P (not very nice,threatening,intimidating people when they are at the lowest point.)

    Thank-You in-advance for the abuse and humiliation that awaits us,Mr Ford.
    I am sure there are alot of other recep who have horror stories of dealing with Lindsays O.D.S.P. Gd LUCK & THANK-YOU to all !

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