Will basic income get its due on the campaign trail?


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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