Ontario government defends move to axe basic income pilot project

The Ontario government is defending its decision to cancel the province's basic income pilot project, suggesting the program discouraged participants from finding work.   

Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod says that giving people money ``with no strings attached'' goes against the government's goal of getting people back on track and making them productive members of society.  

The minister announced Tuesday that the province would be ``winding down'' the program, which gave payments to low-income people in certain communities, but did not give a timeline for that to happen. 

She also said that a three per cent increase in social assistance payments promised by the previous Liberal government would be cut to 1.5 per cent as the province works on a plan to revamp the system.   

The news has spurred backlash from the opposition parties, who say the government is cutting support from those who need it most.   

Some advocacy groups have also denounced the move, as have some who received support through social assistance or the basic income program.   

Sheila Regehr, chair of the Basic Income Canada Network, said such programs are more effective in lifting people out of poverty than social assistance, and require less bureaucracy to run.

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