I’m writing this letter due to the recent Basic Income Guarantee pilot project consultation in Sault Ste. Marie. I reserve strong opposition to the Liberal government on yet, their second attempt at a poverty reduction strategy. I see this Basic Income pilot project plagued with Human Rights issues and the government’s unwillingness to adhere to fiduciary duties and legal responsibilities. I found this event an insult at best and nothing short of the government setting a stage of future fear mongering for election purposes. After all, given the time frame of 3 to 5 years for this project to be completed and another 3 to 4 years possibly to have the final report, it brings the Liberals through two elections. They can hold the purse strings and advise constituents if not re-elected the money will be gone.
There is no guarantee of success to create a sustainable strategy with the Basic Income pilot project. What we do know to be fact and supported by evidence is that people living in poverty will not and cannot succeed. Thus, the government ignoring the needs of their people.
The common stigma attached to people on Ontario Works and Ontario Disability showed true and was reflected in comments such as “the concern that if people were brought up to the poverty line would they be too comfortable and not want to try to get off the system”. People are crippled by this existing system because they are living well below the poverty line. No one could try to change the vicious circle they live daily due to government continuing to ignore the needs of the people. What I mean is, no one can try to succeed if they are forced to worry about their next meal and their children are going hungry and they can’t afford their rent and to feed their kids at the same time. Thus, we have a housing crisis!
Existing systems, such as mental health and addictions and our criminal systems, are flooded with individuals that suffer as a result of the willing ignorance of Government and there lies a large cost to tax payers. We know from statistics that there are many people who now have criminal records because of stealing food. We also know there are many people suffering from substance abuse, unable to cope with the stress that comes with living in poverty. When we speak about human rights I suggest people read the human rights of a person who is disabled. They are to be protected under what is referred to as “guarded ground”. Thus, the Government continues to disobey what is both a fiduciary and legal responsibility.
When we talk about employment rates the question that comes to mind is, “will we be looking at thousands of social workers across this Province no longer employed?” and “will we witness the weakening or dismantling of one of this Country’s most powerful Unions?” Thus, the Liberal government repeating their known history of non-obvious cuts to meet its true agenda.
This event caused concerns for several of us because media was asked to leave under the guise of some people sharing personal information. There was a consensus that government was acting in isolation of the public. When media left, the media could only report what people participating in the consultation shared with them through interviews. Thus, the government dictating what information the media will notify the public with. Yet we were told the media is leaving so we could have a meaningful conversation.
I question the continuing reference to this event being that of a consultation and a Consultation Guide was left on tables for us to follow. This meeting started off with the fact that The Minister Chris Ballard would not be answering questions. This was so the government could apparently get information from the public on what would be seen as key issues in implementing this pilot project. Thus, the government with all its shady antics, to create a mirage and confusion for the constituents.
Common sense would tell any person this was an information session as there can’t be consultation unless there are questions answered from both sides of the forum and a strong presence of leadership. None of which was within this event.
~ Lynn LeClair, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
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