Premier Doug Ford’s election promise to cut $6 billion from Ontario’s budget without cutting any jobs or hurting “real folks” was always dubious. Only “insiders” and “fat cats” needed to worry, he claimed.


Over the past months the cuts his government has imposed are, in fact, hitting the “little guys” — and, appallingly, their children — the hardest.

A panel of experts is looking at whether British Columbia could provide a basic income or if the federal government would have to initiate it, says the minister responsible for the province’s poverty reduction plan.

Shane Simpson said Monday the aim of the province’s strategy is to cut the overall poverty rate by 25 per cent and child poverty by 50 per cent within five years.

He said the three experts came together six months ago and would make recommendations next year on various issues including the question of a basic income.

When Ontario’s basic income pilot project ends on March 31, more than 4,000 participants will be plunged back into a dysfunctional welfare system that penalizes them for simply being poor

Doug Ford’s government cancelled the project, launched by the Liberals under Kathleen Wynne, claiming that some 25 per cent of participants were either dropping out or failing to meet basic obligations, such as filing their taxes.

In fact, the project was achieving its goals of improving food and housing security and mental health, as well as access to education, training and employment while reducing demands on the provincial health care system.

In the conversation that has unfolded since the B.C. government began talking about basic income, many important viewpoints have been shared about potential benefits and drawbacks. These have been excellently articulated by the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition, and include positives such as reduced stigma for recipients of government supports, and concerns such as the risk of dismantling existing public services.

But in addition to the overall benefits and drawbacks, it’s important to acknowledge the particular policy context here in B.C. The provincial government is currently doing work in two other areas that are connected to basic income: poverty reduction and fair wages.

Greater Sudbury is will be working with community groups to find ways to accommodate homeless men in the city after news that the New Life Centre shelter will close May 10.

The Salvation Army announced it was closing the downtown shelter this week, which has 22 beds for men. There are 94 beds at four shelters in the city for people with no other place to go, with some aimed at women and families in distress.

“This decision has been an incredibly difficult one for the Salvation Army,” said Major Bruce Shirran, executive director of the group in Sudbury, in a press release.

A judge has dismissed an appeal of an injunction against campers at a controversial Maple Ridge homeless camp, the city announced Wednesday.

The ruling, which was handed out Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court, sided with the city in keeping the injunction in place, which allows the city to remove fire hazards and other safety issues from the Anita Place camp.

Jean Swanson issued a challenge to her fellow Vancouver city council members as they met yesterday. Spend some of the millions gathered from the empty homes tax to get homeless people camping in Oppenheimer Park out of the cold and into hotel rooms.

“If we have the political will, we can do it. We have $20 million from the empty homes tax, we have $5 million from [Community Amenity Contributions],” COPE party member Swanson urged. “I’m sure the money is there. It depends on what our priorities are.”