On Jan. 29, the Toronto Star reported on Quebec’s basic income program. Some readers may not know the poignant local side of this story. As recently as 2018, it appeared that a successful Basic Income pilot project in Hamilton, Brantford, Thunder Bay and Lindsay might nudge provincial and federal co-operation toward making the plan permanent. That was before Mr. Ford became premier. Ontario then turned its back on the supporters and pulled the plug on the project. Participants whose lives had been lifted to a place of dignity went back to using food banks.
In Hamilton, the disappointed participants did not read the story. Why not? Because being on social assistance means you cannot pay for newspapers, or trips to the library to read free newspapers, or phone data plans to read the news online. You can’t afford to nurse a coffee in a place where Wi-Fi is free, and you can’t afford a phone anyway.
This means you also can’t look for jobs on line, create resumes, gather reference letters, or enrol in training programs that you can’t pay for or get to. You can’t afford to mail job applications, or deliver them in person, and if you use free email, you cannot always access the replies. But let’s say a miracle happens and you get a job interview. You can’t afford to get a haircut, and lack bus fare to get to Value Village to get a new shirt and jacket for the interview.
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