The Northumberland Affordable Housing Committee (NAHC) is urging the Conservative government to stay on track with the Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) Pilot Project.
The committee claims that in attempting to cancel the pilot project, the Conservative Party is going back on its word, as it assured the public prior to the election that the project would go forward under their leadership.
Further, the NAHC believes this decision is also causing chaos and distress for more than 4,000 people in Lindsay, Hamilton-Brant and Thunder Bay who are taking part in the trial program.
“The way the government is cancelling this project is inhumane and unjust,” says David Sheffield, a member of the NAHC.
In a letter written to the provincial government, the committee states that keeping people in poverty is not a path to better employment and income opportunities. Cutting social assistance rates and giving people less is not going to work.
“The government is claiming that the social assistance system is broken and that people stay on assistance too long and can’t get off it,” Sheffield says, “We know that people who are forced to live on amounts that don’t even cover rent can’t get out of the negative poverty cycle. The basic income pilot program was looking into just that – a simpler approach, to allow people to get involved in education, training, or better work opportunities.”
As Sheffield further notes: “It’s important to consider that 70% of people living in poverty are working, so the simplistic notion the government puts forward, that people just need a job, is not accurate”.
The NAHC feels that the basic income pilot project is a well thought out and designed version of a previously successful approach that showed people stayed in school, engaged more in work opportunities, were healthier and costs the system less, when given a basic income to meet their needs.
The NAHC is urging the provincial government to maintain the pilot and its planned evaluation so that policy decisions affecting millions are evidence-based and credible.