The Ontario government has changed course on Ontario's Basic Income pilot and will be cancelling it as soon as possible, and will also cut the planned 3 percent welfare increase in half.
Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod said that the increase scheduled by the previous Liberal party would be reduced to 1.5 percent while the PCs begin a 100-day revamp of social assistance programs that help more than one million people. The Conservatives did not pledge to cut welfare increases during their campaign, but did promise to cut $6 billion from the budget without impacting jobs.
A rate cut of 1.5 percent will mean $150 million less going to people on social assistance programs, impacting the most vulnerable people in our society. Currently Ontario Works pays up to $721 per month and the Ontario Disability Support Program pays up to $1,151.
Ford's cabinet also paused changes that would have allowed social assistance recipients to keep $400, up from $200, from part-time jobs before seeing benefits reduced by 50 cents on the dollar
"They spent money the province didn't have," MacLeod said. "It was certainly not going to be sustainable. Spending more money on a broken program wasn’t going to help anyone."
This is a change from the party's previous stance on the no-strings-attached pilot project taking place in Thunder Bay, Hamilton, Lindsay, Brantford and Brant County, where more than 4,000 people were enrolled. Investigations by the media showed that the pilot improved people's health and lowered stress levels, and has allowed homeless people to find housing.
"We look forward to seeing the results," a spokesperson said at the time. They then replied to a question about cancelling the program by saying "Nope, as mentioned we look forward to seeing the results."
Under the three-year project, up to 4,000 people would receive $16,989 per year for individuals or $24,027 for couples, and another 2,000 people would be paid to fill out surveys as part of a control group. People with disabilities participating in the program were eligible for an extra $6,000.
Residents aged 18-64 with jobs were randomly selected if they were under the threshold of $34,000 for individuals or $48,000 for couples, under the condition that if they find work, the government would reduce the amount they receive by 50 percent of their income.