Ontario’s Alvin Tedjo states that if he were premier, he would implement a basic income guarantee state-wide

The sudden cancellation of the OBIP disrupted the lives of many and broke people’s trust in the provincial government, says Ontario Liberal leadership candidate Alvin Tedjo.

Alvin Tedjo, The Spec

Alvin Tedjo, former Liberal candidate for the provincial riding of Oakville North-Burlington and Liberal leadership candidate, argues basic income is the best way to fight poverty and promises to return it to Ontario if he becomes premier. - Graham Paine , Torstar

In 2017, the proposed Ontario Basic Income Pilot (“OBIP”) gave hope to communities that have struggled with rising unemployment rates, housing instability, and poverty. The program provided 4,000 individuals from cities including Hamilton, Thunder Bay, and Lindsay with a minimum monthly income to pursue continued education, pay for stable housing, support their families, and improve their overall quality of life. The goal of the pilot was to offer a sustainable solution for poverty reduction and positively contribute to the health and well-being of Ontarians.

Ten months into the program, the newly elected Conservative government, and Premier Doug Ford announced its cancellation. Those benefiting from the pilot would no longer receive support from the provincial government and would need to make alternative plans for their financial futures. The lives of thousands were unexpectedly upended.

Instead of ending the cycle of poverty, the provincial government decided to cut funding and willingly ignore the astronomical costs associated with running the current social assistance program. Rather than investing in the well-being of individuals, the Conservatives cut the OBIP short to ensure it never reached its full potential.

The sudden cancellation of the OBIP disrupted the lives of many and broke people’s trust in the provincial government. The only thing worse than never receiving help, is receiving it temporarily, only to have it snatched away again when it’s needed most.

A survey conducted by the Basic Income Network Canada suggested that even in the short period the pilot ran for, the benefits of basic income in Ontario were apparent. Nearly 60 per cent of participants surveyed were able to make improvements to their food and housing security, and 32 per cent sought job training or went back to school. In addition, 46 per cent paid off debts that had previously prevented them from improving their quality of life.

The cost of poverty to Ontario’s economy is estimated at $33 billion every year. A universal basic income plan for all Ontarians would cost an estimated $6 billion by comparison. On paper, this number seems high, but when you factor in the positive effects a program like this would have on the overall well-being of the population, it’s a small price to pay.

If I become premier of Ontario, Basic Income will not just be reinstated, but expanded, so that every Ontarian will have the opportunity to improve their lives and positively contribute to the province’s economy. I believe we can and should do more to support Ontarians that need it, and make sure that no one gets left in the dust as the economy continues to change.

We’ve got a long way to go to make Basic Income a reality once again, but if you believe, as I do, that this is a change the province needs, I urge you to become a member of the Ontario Liberal Party by Dec. 2 and help us make it happen. For more information, visit vote.alvintedjo.ca/.

Alvin Tedjo is a candidate for the leadership of the Ontario Liberals.

Alvin Tedjo is a candidate for the leadership of the Ontario Liberals.

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