QUEEN’S PARK – During question period Thursday, NDP MPP Judith Monteith-Farrell demanded answers from Doug Ford for local participants of the Basic Income Pilot Project canceled by the Ford government this summer.
”When did the government inform participants of the Basic Income pilot program that it was to end, and have they been informed when they will no longer receive the income that they count on?” asked Monteith-Farrell, MPP for Thunder Bay – Atikokan.
Monteith-Farrell told the legislature about Thunder Bay-Atikokan residents Sherry Mendowegan and Dawna George-Morrison who were being helped by the Basic Income program, but who have since heard from program administrators that their last payments will be at the end of August.
“Sherry Mendowegan wasn’t told by this government about this life-altering decision, instead she learned over social media. Sherry had enrolled in school. She had plans to use Basic Income as a step out of poverty. Not anymore,” said Monteith-Farrell.
“Dawna George-Morrison, whose father was a World War II veteran and her mother a victim of a residential school, was on disability and caring for her 8-year-old grandson. On basic income, she could buy food—fruit, meat. Now she will have to go back to food banks.
“What does Doug Ford say to Sherry and Dawna?”
The Complete Exchange
Ms. Judith Monteith-Farrell: To the Premier: When did the government inform participants of the Basic Income Pilot program that the program was to end, and have they been informed when they will no longer receive the income they have come to count on?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Premier? The question was addressed to the Premier.
Hon. Doug Ford: Mr. Speaker, we have a little issue. For the people at home, we’re dealing with a serious issue on the other side of the aisle. We had one of the members from Essex just tell us he’s going to throw a land mine and blow this place up. That’s it. I think the cheese has slipped off the cracker with this guy. When he is threatening to blow this place up, that’s a serious, serious issue we’re facing. He said we’re bringing a land mine—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Premier will take his seat.
Ms. Judith Monteith-Farrell: Back to the Premier: My constituent, Sherry Mendowegan, wasn’t told by this government about this life-altering decision. Instead, she learned about it over social media. What Sherry and others have since heard from the program administrators is that their last payment will be at the end of August. Sherry had enrolled in school and had plans to use basic income as a step out of poverty. Not anymore.
Dawna George-Morrison, whose father was a World War II veteran and her mother a victim of a residential school, was on disability and caring for her eight-year-old grandson. On basic income, she could buy food: fruit, meat. Now she will have to go back to food banks.
What does the Premier say to Sherry and Dawna?
Hon. Doug Ford: Minister of Community and Social Services.
Hon. Lisa MacLeod: I appreciate the member’s question. It gives me an opportunity to update the House on the things that I said yesterday that clearly the member opposite wasn’t listening to.
First of all, I want to assure her that Sherry and Dawna are being listened to. We have heard them. I have a staffer in the gallery. We want to make sure that when we wind this program down—and the details will emerge in the next couple of weeks on how we’re going to do that—it will be a compassionate and lengthy runway, so people will still receive their cheques for the next few months.
But I will tell you this: This is a program that, if it were fully implemented, would cost $17 billion, raising the HST to 20%, an additional 7%. That would impact the poor of this province, the vulnerable. Right now, we have one in seven people who are living in poverty, and our job, as a government for the people, is to lift them up, to give them a pathway to success and, when they’re able to work, get them into that pathway.
But when they don’t have those skills and when they’re unable to do that, we have to support them. That’s why we hit the pause button on the Liberal plan that was patchwork and fragmented, and decided to give a 1.5% increase—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you very much.