Thunder Bay Basic Income advocates organize to fight for program

August 10, 2018

Advocates of the Basic Income pilot project in Thunder Bay, Ont., have begun organizing to try to save the program.

Community groups and Basic Income recipients held two strategy meetings Wednesday afternoon. 

The Northwestern Ontario Women's centre hosted a number of community organizations that serve Basic Income recipients, such as the Kinna-aweya Legal Clinic, along with some of the recipients themselves. 

Participants at that meeting discussed options such as asking Thunder Bay City Council for a resolution in support of the Basic Income pilot, working with other municipalities that participated in the pilot, and filing a complaint with the provincial Ombudsman, said Sally Colquhoun, Kinna-aweya's coordinator of legal services.

The community groups also committed to helping ease recipients' transition from the program. 

Some Basic Income recipients have asked if it's possible to launch a legal challenge to its discontinuation, since they obtained loans and made other commitments based on a promise that it would last three years.

Legal clinics have been looking into the question, Colquhoun said, but it's too early to know the answer because nobody knows yet how the program will be phased out.  

The lack of information about how the government plans to proceed is a huge source of frustration and anxiety for both recipients and service providers, she added. 

"When you call the 1-800 number, there's a recorded message that says that the government has announced that they're winding down the project, and people will get their cheques at the end of August," she said.  "Like literally that's the only information that's being shared at this point."


"Everybody's really upset, dismayed, deeply deeply disappointed," Colquhoun said. 

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