Ontario’s basic income pilot project focus of Hamilton town hall meeting

Fraser report concludes average Canadian family spends 42 per cent of income on taxes, while only 36 per cent on basic needs like food and clothing. File / Global News

People with questions about the provincial government’s basic income pilot project should be able to get some answers tonight.

The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction is hosting a town hall meeting this evening at the central library.

Provincial officials will be there to answer questions.

READ MORE: Ontario basic income pilot project to be tested in Hamilton, Lindsay, Thunder Bay

Roundtable executive director Tom Cooper says the three-year pilot project will provide 1,000 people with an income of up to $17,000 a year.

Those who qualify will be living on social assistance programs such as Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program.

But it also be available for the working poor — those who have jobs but aren’t earning enough to move out of poverty.

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The Liberals say the program will cost $50 million a year and affect 4,000 households.

Cooper says the province hasn’t announced full details, but he believes participants will be selected by some form of lottery.

Cooper says it’s great news for those who will participate, but he points out the program will cover only a fraction of those who could qualify.

He says there are as many as 50,000people in Hamilton who are living below the poverty line.

READ MORE: Ontario government, Senator calling for guaranteed annual income pilot project

However, Cooper is still excited about the program.

He says research has shown that when people are earning a bit more money, “It’s money that is spent in the community on local goods and services, at grocery stores and other essential services, and that’s helping the community and driving economic growth.”

Cooper believes “that providing people with a little bit more money to live on is actually the best infrastructure program you can come up, because it is just that, investing in people.”

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Tonight’s meeting goes from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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