- Mark Blinch/Reuters
- In Ontario, Canada, a three-year program providing monthly, unconditional cash payments to about 4,000 people has been canceled.
- The provincial government said the basic income pilot will end in March 2019, one year earlier than originally planned.
- Jagmeet Singh, the leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party, has called for the federal government to fund the remainder of Ontario’s pilot.
- Singh said Tuesday that it is “morally very reprehensible” for the provincial government to cut off cash payments to those who signed up for the program.
The leader of Canada’s third-largest political party is calling for the federal government to fund one of the world’s largest basic income programs, a three-year pilot in Ontario that is set to end one year early.
During a speech at the Council of Canadian Innovators on Tuesday, New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh said the program cancellation makes it impossible for officials to gather enough data on whether cash payments could improve the economic security of Canadians in poverty.
“It’s the right thing for us to do to step in and provide that funding,” Singh told reporters Tuesday. “We can actually have evidence to make a decision, as opposed to just what the Conservative government in Ontario is talking about – just hypotheses or just stereotypes.”
Basic income is a system in which residents receive regular cash payments regardless of income. Ontario’s program began in July 2017 and provided monthly stipends to about 4,000 people. Those who make less than $34,000 (CAD) per year were eligible to get nearly $17,000 annually.
But Doug Ford, the conservative premier of Ontario, killed the program shortly after taking office. Since the cancellation, 100 Canadian CEOs have urged Ford to bring the pilot back. Ontario’s former government estimated that each year of the program would cost about $50 million.
Singh said a basic income could help offset the job losses caused by automation, according to CTV News. He added that the Ontario government is ignoring the harm being done to pilot participants.
“I think it’s morally very reprehensible to have people to sign up for a project for three years and to then [stop] that project prematurely,” he said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had not released a statement in response to Singh’s speech.