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

By Roderick Benns

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.”

“Come out and let the government know that treating people this way — and poverty in Ontario — are not ok,” the protest event states.

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 nearly 2,000 of them in Lindsay. 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.

Despite her early support for the initiative, Scott — who also serves as minister of labour — did not stand up for the initiative once she was appointed to cabinet. Instead, she said there were “too many concerns” about the Ontario Basic Income Pilot to let it go on — but then also noted if it were successful it would have been too expensive to implement Ontario-wide. The contradictory comments parroted the PC’s standard response after breaking their word on the program.

The PCs have indicated broad reforms are coming to social assistance instead, but after an initial media release last November there has been little to no information about what this might mean.

Lawyer and social worker Mike Perry, working pro bono, is leading a class action lawsuit against the Province for their decision. The applicants are Dana Bowman, Grace Marie Doyle Hillion, Susan Lindsay, and Tracey Mechefske, all from Lindsay.

The Basic Income Canada Network (BICN) released a survey report, Signposts to Successdocumenting the experiences of recipients in the Ontario Basic Income Pilot (OBIP). It provides compelling indicators of lives remarkably changed for the better. Responses from more than 400 recipients show that the pilot was working — enabling women and men to get and keep jobs, start businesses, pursue education and training, overcome barriers and improve health and well-being for themselves and their families.

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