Ontario Tories announce changes to welfare programs, plan to scrap basic income pilot

TORONTO -- Ontario's new Progressive Conservative government says it will bring in major changes to social assistance, starting with reducing a planned increase in support rates and cancelling a pilot program that provided payments to low-income people in certain communities.

Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, says the previous Liberal government left behind a patchwork system that the Progressive Conservatives will replace.

She says the governing Tories will set a 100-day deadline to come up with a new social assistance program that will help people break the cycle of poverty and get back in the workforce.

The government's first steps, announced Tuesday, will be to cancel the previous Liberal government's plan to raise Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Works rates by three per cent and raise them by 1.5 per cent instead.

The province will also wind down Ontario's basic income pilot project, which provided payments to 4,000 low-income people in communities including Hamilton, Brantford, Thunder Bay and Lindsay.

Single participants receive up to $16,989 a year while couples receive up to $24,027, less 50 per cent of any earned income.