Everything in Ruth Westcott’s life changed for the better when she became part of Ontario’s basic income pilot project.
The Thunder Bay woman had been on social assistance for nearly 30 years, but once she came out of the now-cancelled pilot project, her health improved dramatically and she became well enough to work.
“Just like everyone else I know on social assistance, I was getting sicker and sicker and more and more disabled the deeper and deeper my poverty was getting,” she said.
“There was no way out of it, you’re too sick to work. But basic income helped me. Today I have a job and a car and I’m healthy enough to ride my bike, which I prefer to do.”
Westcott shared her story on Thursday at city hall for the observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The lobby was packed for the Poverty Free Thunder Bay event, which ended with a flag-raising outside of city hall.
The basic income pilot project was announced by former Ontario premier, Kathleen Wynne, and first rolled out in April 2018.
Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford cancelled the program shortly after being elected last year with participants receiving their last payments in March of this year.
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