Green Party of Ontario Leader, Mike Schreiner, and Green Party of Canada Leader, Elizabeth May, sent the following letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today:
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
Dear Prime Minister:
We are writing to ask the Government of Canada to step forward to complete the Basic Income pilot project in Ontario. We believe the data and information collected from the pilot project is in the national interest.
As you might be aware, the Government of Ontario recently decided to cancel the Basic Income pilot program that was testing a transformative approach to tackling poverty.
The project was set to run for three years, providing payments to 4,000 low-income people in communities including Hamilton, Brantford, Thunder Bay and Lindsay. Single participants received up to $16,989 a year while couples received up to $24,027.
The provincial government’s decision is an attack on evidence-based policy making. Mayors in the cities selected for the project have expressed their disappointment. Researchers have expressed outrage at the decision to turn a blind eye to science and for the harm being done to research participants in the pilot. Former Conservative Senator Hugh Segal called the move a callous and mean-spirited setback in the multi-partisan battle to reduce poverty.
And just last week, over 100 Canadian CEOs stepped forward to ask the Premier to restore the project as a business-friendly approach in a rapidly changing global economy.
By filling the void left by the province’s cancellation of the pilot, the federal government would be providing relief to the 4,000 people who were relying on the income for economic security. It would also allow Ontario, Canada, and the world to benefit from the knowledge gained by the results of the project.
As you will know, the Parliament of Canada has had an active Anti-Poverty Caucus for many years. This joint House and Senate Caucus have been gathering valuable evidence for years about the many advantages of a Guaranteed Livable Income programme. Evidence obtained through the Ontario project, coupled with evidence from the British Columbia pilot project, will make an invaluable contribution to our knowledge base and the goal of eliminating poverty.
We believe there is tremendous national value in finishing this project. Every province is grappling with how to provide a strong social safety net that allows people to lead dignified lives without creating excessive administration. We are in desperate need of preventative approaches that will reduce the burden of poverty on our health care, education, and criminal justice systems.
The world was watching Ontario, Prime Minister. Places such as Scotland, India, Kenya, and California were eager to learn from Ontario’s experience to inform the roll-out of their own programs.
Prime Minister, the end of the Basic Income pilot in Ontario has devastated participants who were turning their lives around with education, new skills and employment, decent housing and stability for their families. It has shocked researchers, experts, and the business community who were anticipating the results of this game-changing approach.
The Ontario government is ending its support in March 2019. Just $50 million is needed to complete the project and collect the results that could be illuminating for the country and the world. We respectfully request that the Government of Canada consider stepping forward to correct this short-sighted decision.
Leader, Green Party of Ontario
Leader, Green Party of Canada