When she signed up for Ontario’s Basic Income Pilot Program in 2017, Hamiltonian Jessie Golem was working four jobs to make ends meet. She wanted to start a full-time photography business but couldn’t find the time. “It was really hard to focus. I was constantly stressed,” Golem says. When Ontario’s then-Liberal government launched a pilotto provide 4,000 low-income earners in Hamilton, Lindsay, and Thunder Bay with up to $17,000 annually, she applied and got in.
Golem remembers the moment it hit her that she wouldn’t have to worry about covering rent. “I started sobbing because I was just so happy and relieved and surprised,” she says. She started a photography business and made a financial plan, projecting that, by the time the pilot ended, she’d be earning more than the $34,000 ceiling and off basic income. Then, in 2018, Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government cancelled the pilot. Golem was “absolutely furious.”
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