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Hamilton officials excoriated Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his Progressive Conservative government a day after Minister of Social Services Lisa Macleod cancelled the basic income project that was supposed to operate for three years.

The Ontario Progressive Conservative government's decision is ignorant of the considerable thought and analysis on basic income as a promising policy solution for improving lives and strengthening the economy, ideas that come from the right and the left.

So when the provincial government announced earlier this week that it is working on a plan to reform social assistance so that it helps more people break the cycle of poverty, re-enter the workforce and get back on track, he became hopeful.

"This decision is about fixing a broken system and making sure we have the capacity to build people up and get them back on their feet", MacLeod said.

She said the review will be done within 100 days.

The government's first steps, announced Tuesday, will be to cancel the previous Liberal government's plan to raise Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works rates by three per cent and raise them by 1.5 per cent instead. "It was certainly not going to be sustainable", MacLeod said.

In addition to 4,000 people in Hamilton-Brantford, Thunder Bay and Lindsay who volunteered to receive the monthly, no-strings-attached payments - despite widespread mistrust of such government largesse - another 2,000 agreed to answer surveys as a comparison group. One in five people stays on Ontario Works for five or more years, and if they leave nearly half return, 90 per cent of them within a year, statistics show.

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Garvey said she is waiting to hear more information about what those changes could look like and what MacLeod meant when she referred to the income supports as a "patchwork".

"I knew it was coming every month", she said.

"Cutting the meagre three per cent increase in half is cruel".

Mike Nadeau agrees that the current social assistance program isn't getting the outcomes social service agencies want to see. Suggesting the program discouraged participants from finding work.

Participants in Ontario received up to $16,989 per year for a single person, less 50 per cent of any earned income.

As well, through the Ontario Works program she was on before being selected for the basic income, any funding Mendowegan received for her education counted as income and would have been deducted from her social assistance.

If the effect on private consumption isn't convincing enough, PROOF research by Tarasuk and others has examined how poverty and food insecurity are associated with many other adverse health consequences that increase government expenditures for health care, a serious economic concern in Ontario and elsewhere.


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