Court orders more than $300,000 in legal expenses to be paid in basic income class action lawsuit

Roderick Benns

The Lindsay Advocate has learned that a “significant development” has occurred in the basic income class action lawsuit against the Ontario Conservative government.

According to Angela Waz, from Crestview Strategy, as per court order following the class action certification last month, Ontario government lawyers have agreed to pay opposing counsel “for their time and expenses so far in the amount of $320,000.”

The four Lindsay plaintiffs – Dana Bowman, Grace Marie Doyle Hillion, Susan Lindsay, and Tracey Mechefske – are being represented by Toronto’s Cavalluzzo LLP. There are more than 4,000 class members in this suit

The paperwork was filed in Superior Court this week.

It was just last month when the class action lawsuit was certified by the court. Cavalluzzo LLP called this “very positive news” in a letter to plaintiffs which the Advocate obtained.

“Basic income allowed participants to improve their health, start their own business, or go back to school to upskill themselves for the job market,” Waz said in an email.

“Relying on the government’s assurances that the pilot would last for three years, many participants signed contracts for necessities they previously could not afford, such as a lease for an apartment in a safer neighbourhood. The sudden cancellation of the pilot (in 2018) meant that those individuals were left without the means to follow through on their own obligations and impacted them both financially and emotionally.”

Waz notes that the certification milestone came after years of delays and challenges by the Ford government, ultimately costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money, “to say nothing of the…costs they’re paying their own lawyers to fight the suit.”

“The total cost to government for this process may be well into the millions of dollars when all is said and done.”

The pilot was initiated by the province in 2017 under the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne. It was set up in three areas – Hamilton region, Thunder Bay area, and Lindsay. Almost 4,000 people were involved, with 1,840 participants from Lindsay. It was set to run for three years. Payments ended prematurely in March of 2019, leaving hundreds of people scrambling.

–More to come.