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Hamilton politicians denounce cancellation of Basic Income Pilot Project

A few hundred people gathered in Lindsay on Tuesday to protest the cancellation of the Basic Income Pilot Project.
A few hundred people gathered in Lindsay on Tuesday to protest the cancellation of the Basic Income Pilot Project. Dan Nyznik/CHEX-TV

Hamilton politicians have approved a motion “denouncing” the provincial government’s cancellation of the Basic Income Pilot Project.

The Healthy and Safe Communities committee passed that motion, in a unanimous vote on Wednesday afternoon, after hearing from some of the local residents and former social assistance recipients, who have been participating in the pilot.

READ MORE: Ontario government defends move to cancel basic income pilot project

They include Ian Masterman who says, “I am not lazy, I am not entitled. I am just disabled.” He adds that if his expectation was being met, that he would be able to work, to contribute to society.

Alana Baltzer applied for college prior to the Doug Ford government’s decision to cancel the basic income project. She says she’ll have to toss that letter from Mohawk College when it comes in “because I can no longer afford to go if basic income gets cancelled.”

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READ MORE: Guaranteed basic income for all Canadians would cost $43 billion a year: PBO

A few hundred people gathered in Lindsay on Tuesday to protest the cancellation of the basic income pilot project.
A few hundred people gathered in Lindsay on Tuesday to protest the cancellation of the basic income pilot project. Dan Nyznik/CHEX-TV

Jonathan Dalton who had been self-employed, but got into debt and lost his business, predicts he would have been one of those samples of data which proves that it works,” if the project had been allowed to run its course.

A new website, “basic income voices,” has been launched giving people like Masterman, Baltzer and Dalton the chance to tell their stories.

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

The Basic Income Pilot Project, which launched last year and was set to run for three years, provided payments to 4,000 low-income people in communities including Hamilton, Brantford, Thunder Bay and Lindsay.

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Single participants receive up to $16,989 a year while couples receive up to $24,027, less 50 per cent of any earned income.

Statistics released by the previous government showed two-thirds of those enrolled had a job, but the province has defended the move to cancel it by suggesting the program discouraged participants from finding work.