Is Ontario’s Basic Income Pilot really that great?

I’m sure many of you have heard of the pilot that Ontario is going to do on Basic Income. It seems great, but I need to bring two things up for public discussion that I discovered recently,

Recently I came across the Income Security Advocacy Centre’s backgrounder, “Ontario’s Basic Income Pilot Project: What will it mean for people on social assistance?” (Word document)

* Social assistance means Ontario Works (OW, aka welfare) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP, aka disability) together.

In this backgrounder, there are two critical points that I would like to bring up for public discussion. I have not yet seen these be discussed and it is important that these be discussed, because these two points affect Disabled people.

What are these points?

Both points from the backgrounder.

First one is as follows:

Q. Can I get both social assistance and the basic income?
No. People who are selected to apply for the Basic Income Pilot Project will have to decide whether or not to stay on social assistance or go on basic income. If a person decides to go on basic income, they will have to withdraw from social assistance.

Second one:

Q. Which OW or ODSP benefits can I keep if I participate in the basic income pilot, and which will I lose?
The government has said that people who decide to leave OW or ODSP and be part of the Basic Income Pilot Project will be able to keep their drug benefits, and people on ODSP will be able to keep their dental benefits. This is good news, because a lot of people on social assistance rely on these important benefits.

All other benefits available through OW or ODSP will not be kept, including:

  • Special Diet Allowance

  • Remote communities allowance

  • Mandatory Special Necessities (MSN) – including diabetic supplies, medical and surgical supplies, including incontinence supplies, and medical travel

  • Vision benefits (i.e., glasses, repairs, exams)

  • Hearing aids and other supports, like visual alerting systems

  • Service dog benefit

  • Assistive devices co-payment coverage

  • Employment supports, including the Work-Related Benefit and other benefits

  • Up-front child care costs