Lindsay, Ontario – A class action lawsuit was filed against the Ford administration, following the early cancellation of a universal basic income pilot program. The plaintiffs claim the government was negligent for breaching its contract with the project’s 4,000 participants, and for abdicating its common law duties.
The original program, launched in 2017 by the prior administration, would have provided 4,000 participants – in Lindsay, Thunder Bay, and Hamilton – up to $17,000 per annum for a three-year period. Couples received up to $24,000. The program was cut a little over one year in, with the final payment made in March.
The Ontario government announced the program’s end in June of 2018, shortly after taking office.
Participants were given little justification for the program’s early termination. An application to overturn the decision was denied by the courts, leaving many low-income earners, students, and people living with disabilities without the financial security they had thought guaranteed.
Four Lindsay residents filed the suit for $200 million dollars. It is unsure how the money will be spread to other participants.
The action taken by these citizens is not unjustified. What the Ford government did in cancelling this pilot program is a great disservice not only to their constituents, but also the science of economics. If provisions had been made to conduct a study, they were already a sunk cost, and terminating it would save nothing. What’s more, what’s truly lost cannot be recovered, what we may have learned.