Attention Ontario Works Members

Date:          November 24, 2016

Re:         Basic Income Pilot Program Update 

In the 2016 Budget, the provincial government announced that it would be launching a Basic Income Pilot as a way to “test whether a basic income would provide a more efficient way of delivering income support, strengthen the attachment to the labour force, and achieve savings in other areas, such as health care and housing supports.” In other words, Basic Income is a strategy to cut administrative costs for Ontario Works and ODSP, and use Basic Income as a way to cut costs in other departments.

It is part of ongoing austerity, but is being falsely dressed up as a new anti-poverty strategy. If the government was truly serious about fighting poverty they would have raised social assistance rates years ago.

On November 3rd, 2016, former Conservative Senator Hugh Segal’s discussion paper on Basic Income was finally released to the public. It contains recommendations on running a three-year pilot of a Basic Income program. If the government adopts this recommendation, there will be three “saturation sites” in the test (one in southern Ontario, one in northern Ontario, and one Aboriginal community), where OW and ODSP will be replaced by the new program. There will also be a larger city in which different models of Basic Income will be tested for some, while others are a “control group” who will remain on OW and ODSP. The recommendation is for the pilot to last at least three years commencing April 2017.

The government’s consultation guide to the Basic Income Pilot can be found at It includes a summary of the recommendations for the pilot, as well as a number of questions for the consultation process.

CUPE is encouraging front line workers delivering municipal social assistance programs such as Ontario Works to engage in all aspects of the consultation process. CUPE Ontario will be making a formal written submission before the January 31st, 2017 deadline that will outline our concerns about Basic Income, and providing alternative proposals. We are also encouraging members to attend the in-person consultations being held around the province from November 22, 2016 to January 31, 2017.

Included in the attached letter is a list of dates and locations for the consultations and highlights of some issues to consider raising at the consultations.

In solidarity,

Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam                                  Bev Patchell

Chair                                                                      Acting Coordinator