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Silence from MPP Laurie Scott deafening for those losing their basic income

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On March 25, nearly 2,000 people in Lindsay lost their basic income cheques due to a broken promise of the PC government. On April 25, some will be back on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), or Ontario Works. Still others will receive no money top-up to stay out of abject poverty and will rely on precarious work, hoping to avoid homelessness.

Single people on ODSP get a maximum of $1,151 – $662 is for basic needs and $489 for shelter. Their total annual income with other benefits is only about $15,000 per year, which is more than $7,000 below the poverty line. Because of an ineffective changeover from basic income back to ODSP – the opposite of the smooth transition that was promised – some people were left in the lurch when it came to their important medications. Thankfully pharmacists stepped in to help.

Joli Scheidler-Benns.

Landlords are scrambling as people no longer have the means to afford rent. Local businesses are seeing a decline in purchases as 10 per cent of our local people no longer have enough money for extras let alone to pay for their basic needs. The basic income pilot added an additional $50 million to our local economy.

What does local MPP and Minister of Labour Laurie Scott have to say to our people and our community? Nothing at all.

On March 25 several people attended a sit-in at Laurie Scott’s office requesting an apology from Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, Lisa MacLeod for the premature ending of the pilot. The group was led by lawyer and social worker Mike Perry, but many of us were involved.

We also asked for a comment from Scott’s office, not just McLeod’s. Although we were forced to sit outside in the cold weather after the first day, the sit-in continued until Friday when the Class Action lawsuit was announced publicly. Not one word of condolence or concern was given to basic income participants or the community during that week.

After several follow up calls in person and by phone from a number of people, the following message was shared on April 10 to all those who participated in the sit-in  (nearly two and a half weeks after the initial request.)

Good Afternoon…

Thank you for stopping into the office yesterday afternoon. The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services has advised that the best way to correspond with Minister MacLeod is by e-mailing her office at .  Again, thank you for following up. Kind Regards, Erika.

Not wanting to assume, I reached out to Perry to see if this was adequate and if he had emailed MacLeod.

“Hell, no! Email the Minister is not satisfactory. You don’t “e-fix” poverty. And you don’t just email about our local people who are suffering from a government’s decision.”

This morning I called Scott’s office to ask for further comments from Erika Robson. A couple hours later Robson returned my call to tell me that I needed to talk with Scott’s press secretary, Christine. Why wasn’t this suggested over the last three weeks? Why now?

Needless to say, the press secretary didn’t get back to me.

To disregard the lives of nearly 2,000 local people with no comment at all for their well-being or the well-being of our town is unconscionable.

We do have two new foodbanks in our City though. Was that meant to solve the problem?

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Joli Scheidler-Benns is a PhD candidate in Health Policy and Equity at York University. She is a sessional professor for UOIT's Faculty of Education. She serves in a Research, Strategy, and Community Development role for The Lindsay Advocate while also serving as a Writer-at-Large.

7 Comments

  1. Are you kidding me $662 for basic needs and $489 for shelter like I said are you kidding me recipients need as much income for shelter as well as basic needs.
    The Ford government are still playing DUM anyone can see that IT IS CRYSTAL CLEAR.

    This problem for those people who are on the Ontario Disability Support Program or Ontario Works etc. will never get resolved EVER. It seems to me the Ford government are not ready to put an end to this kind of poor living and it is a big PROBLEM because the government is making it A BIG PROBLEM. It also seems to me that the government is enjoying this charade and that is making people have a lot of stress and it is not over by a long shot. Why does the government have to make a big deal giving people what they deserve no one but no one ask to be born like this (homeless etc.).

    They (government) need to taste some of their own medicine and see how long they would live on a very short income they’re not stupid they (government) know the cost of living is incredibly high and it will continue to do SO……SO WHY DOES THE GOVERNMENT KEEP FIGHTING THESE PEOPLE IT IS COMPLETELY INSANE AND COMPLETE NONSENSE.

    People’s lives are in jeopardy when it comes to their health decreasing when they keep fighting back for their rights IT IS THEIR RIGHTS TO LIVE AND ENJOY THEIR LIVES TO THE FULLEST CAN THE FORD GOVERNMENT UNDERSTAND ENGLISH.

    This BIG PROBLEM THAT THE GOVERNMENT KEEP MAKING A BIG DEAL IS GETTING VERY BORING AND I DON’T BELIEVE THEY ARE READY TO PUT AND END TO THIS BY GIVING PEOPLE THE RIGHT TO LIVE COMFORTABLY.

    Those precious children of these recipients are NOT going to have a pleasant view when they grow up the knowledge that their parents had to endure the government’s bad behavior in giving their parents the rights to live a comfortable life and contented before they pass away will certainly affect those children. The government has a very bad reputation when they can’t keep their PROMISES.

    • There’s no discrepancy that we all have a right to live comfortably. However, between 2003 and 2014 Ontario’s net public debt grew to $287.3 billion from $138.8 billion– an increase of $148.5 billion. This represents the largest debt accumulation in Ontario’s history, and all under Liberal governance. So what’s your plan to pay for it all, and at who’s expense and what are you willing to sacrifice to make it happen.

    • Read this. Then understand why no employer would ever hire someone with this kind of childish emotional incontinence. No one will put up with witless malcontents.

      Sometimes your crappy life situations are your own doing. Wailing about how it’s everyone else’s fault and for everyone else to fix for you doesn’t cut it anymore.

      Learn to live in the world as it is. Grow up. Be an adult for a change.

  2. Those of us that are working 2 jobs and in school don’t have the time or need to follow her every move,while the chosen few who partook of free income from the tax payers already empty pockets continue to throw temper tantrums while still looking for a teat. Instead of whining have some gratitude.

  3. Wow. Actually reading avon’s reply and stans reply really makes you realize the world we are living in. “No one will put up with witless malcontents” that’s a pretty shameful statement you made, doesn’t matter you tried to mask your malicious words with a quick glance at a thesaurus. As for you stan keep up the good work, just like those who were on the BIP. knowing they are in the same foot race as you does that change your mind? probably not because you enjoy seeing people struggle, it doesn’t build character, unless you consider ignorance and discontent a character. Sounds to me you are the people throwing temper tantrums. Just like Doug Ford is.

    Yes sometimes people put themselves in bad situations, sometimes it’s systemic. That still leaves the case of basic human rights. Most on the BIP are people working harder then you, longer hours than you, smarter than you and capable of more than you. Accept that and don’t put people down just because you don’t see their struggle, we are all in this together.

    That being said, i will leave you with this thought… How do you get out of a hole when offered a shovel? they say it’s a ladder with a smile, but you know the difference between a shovel and a ladder. you clearly confirm it’s a shovel, but still they smile and say no, it’s a ladder. They lied and left you in a hole, the tide is rising. is this not murder? that’s pretty much the situation those on the BIP are left with. It’s not about what you can do with the shovel, some of us are smarter than others remember, it’s about the promises and lies we have been fed.

  4. Rather that the government providing wealth-distribution “welfare” programs like UBI program, our elected leaders would better serve the employment prospects for all of our citizens in another, more sustainable way. The Ford team should repeal all legislation that imposes unnecessary barriers to business investment. Ontario has too many tax and red tape policies that are strong deterrents for business success. Ontario’s “investment climate” is poor when compared to more attractive jurisdictions elsewhere. Consequently, too many businesses are closing shop, moving away, or investing/ expanding elsewhere. UBI would not be needed of even contemplated if Ontario featured a more robust climate for job creation here.

    I don’t blame the FORD government’s decision to cancel the UBI program. It was a Liberal plan and not consistent with Conservative policy. Since the Conservatives won a majority, Ford’s team is perfectly within its mandate to make changes like this one. Yes, 4000 citizens will lose the UBI benefit, but 9 million citizens will no longer be expected to contribute taxes in support of a UBI program that they did not support at the election polls. It may not be a happy outcome for some members of society but, in electoral democracies, the “majority” rules, and in this case, the Conservative majority has made its will known in exactly the same manner as Kathleen Wynne’s “majority” ruled when UBI began.

    Fair is fair.

    • I agree, Gene. A freer market would certainly serve as a catalyst for halting the stagnation this area has seen over the years. By cutting the regulations on commerce, as well as costs in programs that offer nothing to lower the unemployment rate, we could see some net growth (likely upwards of another $50 million) without merely shuffling taxpayer dollars around.

      I also have some admiration for your defense and explanation of the democratic system – it most certainly is a system for the majority to rule. These recipients preach that it’s a free country, that they deserve these payments, the government broke their hearts, etc., but that’s just it. The province has spoken on this program and Ford is just honoring the wishes of the constituency (from what I gather).

      Fair is fair, indeed.

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