Spotlight shines on Basic Income poverty pilot project in Hamilton

March 9, 2018
Article Source
Hamilton Spectator

The spotlight is shining on Hamilton's role in a three-year experiment where about 1,000 people in the city living in poverty will receive a no-strings attached base income.

Media reports on the basic income pilot project in Ontario have recently been published in the U.K. and U.S., and a correspondent from PBS NewsHour was in town this week to interview participants.

Attention may increase with the Basic Income Congress coming to the city in May.

"Hamilton is like the epicentre of this important and growing social policy initiative," said Tom Cooper, chair of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction.

The project that started late last summer will see 4,000 Ontarians receive a guaranteed income of about $17,000 — depending on their individual circumstances — in place of conventional social assistance benefits.

The other community test sites are Brantford, Lindsay and Thunder Bay.

Cooper suggests the media glare, while generally positive, also presents a challenge of sorts for participants, which is why he recently organized a media "boot camp" session at Mohawk College.

Ten participants learned the ropes for dealing with reporters, including a mock news conference with Mohawk journalism students.

Cooper is concerned some reporters may take advantage of participants in the program to cast them and the initiative in a mocking light.

A recent headline in the tabloid N.Y. Post about the project describes it as "handing out free money."

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