Letter to Hon. Lisa MacLeod re: Basic Income

Dear Minister MacLeod:

We are writing in response to your government’s decision to end the Basic Income Pilot Program
in Ontario. We strongly disagree with your decision to end this Pilot prematurely and without
regard for the demonstrably positive impact that this program was having upon the lives of
people living in poverty in our Province. As such, we respectfully urge you to reconsider a
policy decision that will only serve to deepen the experience of poverty for millions of Ontario’s
children, families and seniors.

The Halton Poverty Roundtable is a registered charity who is a leader in connecting, educating,
and acting on issues related to poverty in Halton. In our community, 1 in 10 of our neighbours
do not know where their next meal will come from and 1 in 3 seniors are living below the
poverty line. Our communities of Oakville, Burlington, Milton and Halton Hills have over thirtyseven
thousand individuals who struggle daily to survive on low incomes, or who live in poverty.
Minister MacLeod, the conclusion of the first phase of the Basic Income Pilot in April of this
year, brought with it an abundance of first-hand accounts of the difference that Basic Income had
made to people’s lives. The decision to abandon the Pilot will cause needless difficulties for the
participants struggling to escape poverty. Given the initial success of the program, we cannot
understand the immediate need for cancelation. Surely, it would have been prudent to conclude
the Pilot and use the resulting data in the development of social policy.

We are hopeful that your government’s announcement to reform Social Assistance in the next
100 days includes an inclusive and transparent process, collaboration across all sectors, and a
fulsome consultation process including those living with the challenges of poverty. As you may
know, having a 100 day timeline to reform the entire social assistance program will be met with
challenges including: the potential for increases of punitive and ineffective approaches and
models being implemented, the reduction of supports under the guise of decreasing resource
costs and a lack of understanding of the lived experience of being on Ontario Works (OW) and
Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

As you embark on this reform, we would like to draw your attention to the living wage in Halton
Region. In order for a family in Halton to cover their basic living expenses, a family of four
would have to have both adults working 37.5 hours per week making $17.95 per hour. Clearly,
minimum wage, Ontario Works and ODSP do not come close to affording recipients a basic
standard of living in Halton. Your government’s proposed 1.5% increase in social assistance
will do little to assist the most vulnerable people in our communities.

The Halton Poverty Roundtable respectfully requests that the Government of Ontario continue
the Basic Income Pilot through to its conclusion before making a final decision as to the efficacy,
both socially and financially, of the basic income concept.
In light of the current economic climate in Ontario, the low Canadian dollar, the ongoing trade
tariff situation with the United States, combined with the cost of living, this is driving
uncertainty for the most vulnerable. Bottom line, you know that it is harder for families to
survive and the cancelation of the basic income pilot and the cut to our current social assistance
program puts far too many at even greater risk.

Sincerely,

Sarah Sabihuddin
Director, Community Engagement
Halton Poverty Roundtable

CC to: Halton Region MPP’s
The Hon. Ted Arnott, M.P.P.
Mr. Stephen Crawford, M.P.P.
Ms. Jane McKenna, M.P.P.
Mr. Parm Gill, M.P.P.
Ms. Effie Triantafilopoulos, M.P.P.

www.haltonpovertyroundtable.com
4210 South Service Road, Suite 101, Burlington, ON L7L 4XS

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