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Ontario's Right-Wing Government Hit With Class-Action Lawsuit for Canceling Basic Income Program

Just weeks after Ontario Premier Doug Ford provoked outrage by prematurely killing the province’s three-year basic income pilot—which gave the 4,000 participants around $1,400 per month as financial support with no strings attached—lawyer and social worker Mike Perry on Monday filed a class-action lawsuit accusing Ford’s government of “anticipatory breach of contract, negligence, and misfeasance in public office.”

“We take no joy in this. It’s not fun, having to have to sue the government. When we can’t get justice from our elected officials, the courts stand ready to hear claims,” Perry said in a statement. “That’s why our courageous representative plaintiffs are bringing forward this class action lawsuit.”

Perry added that if Ford wants to stop the class-action suit from moving ahead, he must allow the basic income project to continue.

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While just four participants in the basic income pilot are currently named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Perry said he hopes to ultimately include everyone who took part in the program, which was launched in 2017 by the previous Liberal government.

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Ford’s decision to cancel the pilot program just months after his party vowed to keep it going was immediately condemned by anti-poverty activists and the project’s participants, who have argued that it drastically improved their material circumstances.

Dana Bowman, one of the plaintiffs in the class-action suit, said the basic income program “gave me back my dignity.”

“I didn’t have to use food banks anymore,” Bowman said.

As Huffington Post Canada notes, other participants said “the program helped them return to school, grow their small business, or move forward after leaving an abusive relationship.”

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