Smiths Falls council rejects bid to host basic income pilot project

Posted on: December 20, 2016 

Smiths Falls councillors have rejected a proposal for the town to participate in a pilot project to test the concept of providing a guaranteed basic income in Ontario.

At a meeting of council’s Committee of the Whole Dec. 19, councillors were told that Mayor Shawn Pankow had written to the province in May suggesting that the town might be interested in participating in the project – a step which some councillors said they were unaware of and would not support.

Announced in the 2016 provincial budget, the pilot project is being spearheaded by former senator Hugh Segal. The pilot project would be run in several communities, providing people on social assistance with a basic income for three years. An individual would have to be a resident of the community for at least a year to qualify to take part in the project.

According to news reports, a similar project was undertaken in Manitoba in the 1970s. Although the results were not publicized, a recent research paper concluded that the provision of a basic income virtually eliminated poverty and reduced health care costs.

“I suspect there would not be a direct cost to the town of Smiths Falls,” said Chief Administrative Officer Malcolm Morris, adding that the project would be administered by the provincial government.

Councillor Jay Brennan said it would be more appropriate for the province to approach Lanark County, since social services in the local area are administered at the county level.

“I think this is something that has merit,” said Councillor Lorraine Allen. “People who live in poverty and have mental illness of one kind of another are struggling.”

However, councillors John Maloney and Dawn Quinn said they viewed the project as throwing money at a problem that could better be addressed through education, and were not in favour of Smiths Falls being a site for the pilot project.

25 thoughts on “Smiths Falls council rejects bid to host basic income pilot project

  1. Audrey Vansickle

    If this eliminated poverty and reduced health care costs I would have thought we would have jumped at the chance to participate in this pilot project. Shame!

  2. Andrea Cordonier

    Hmmm. What’s the chance the county will run with the project instead of the town? Pity to miss out on the opportunity to participate in such an important/high profile project that could potentially benefit many Canadians and bring the town into the international spotlight. Canada isn’t the only country considering guaranteed income as a solution to systemic poverty.

  3. Lise Ridgway

    Education is easier to achieve if you aren’t struggling financially. I’ve struggled for many years and I didn’t have the energy or mental capacity to continue school.
    Now I’m doing well enough to have healthy food on the table every day for more than once a day, and keep my bills paid and I’m finally achieving my educational goals.

    Do either John Maloney or Dawn Quinn know what it truly feels like to struggle financially?

    The money you don’t want the poor to have in this town is going to go to someone else in another town, perhaps you have cost them the chance for an education.


    It does seem a shame that they turned down this project without at least getting more information. Smiths Falls residents should at least have a chance to say yes or no to this. Having been on assistance I know first hand just how little you get and with everything needed to live going up,it would be a bit of a stress relief to know there might be a way to help those on assistance to have a better way of living.

  5. Mel Hendershott

    Let’s see. No Charging stations for electric vehicles and education to solve the problem of people in and out of jobs in the new economy. It isn’t 1975. You are missing a tremendous opportunity to shine a light on the town that could lead to a brighter future.

  6. Jane

    I believe a pilot project would help determine how to evolve this program into added education and working for your money element. Give small businesses in the area funding as well to give potential equal income participants a job and opportunity to be trained. There are some circumstances where people require equal income and are not able to work but I assume most could even participate part time. Self worth and building confidence goes a long way to physical and mental health and well being.
    Our country can not afford continued income for life with no incentive to work.

    I also believe those who are on any social assistance now should be paid more if they do obtain paid work – give the employers incentives to train and keep on staff by paying their wage and those at minimum wage pay their benefits.. to secure a better future for everyone.

    These suggestions are only the beginning to evolve the program to create a better Canada..
    why would Smiths Falls not want to attempt to be part of creating the future with direct input??

  7. Janice Bottineau

    If the town of Smiths Falls were to institute such a project, I suspect Lanark County (responsible for social services in the area) residents on social services would suddenly decide to move to Smiths Falls. While it would be government money being spent in S.F., it would be money nonetheless, and I’m really surprised council didn’t jump at the chance. Pretty easy to see which councillors never had to worry about where their next meal was coming from, or whether or not they had enough gas money to get to work the next day.

  8. Jenna

    Shame to John Maloney and Dawn Quinn for rejecting the pilot project for basic income. Maybe they need to educate themselves about systematic poverty and get a better pulse on the community they represent. #shame #nothingventurednothinggained

  9. Cheryl

    Not everyone who is struggling financially is doing so because of lack of education!! Perhaps Maloney and Quinn are the ones who need the education…

  10. Diane

    I may be wrong but if u r on assistance u have to have A grade 12 and be looking for work and if u don’t have a grade 12 u have to be in school to be eligible to receive a cheque every month , so educate is in place for people it’s a lack of jobs in this community so shame on u councils this would or could of benefit and changed people on assistance who r u to take this away from our community

  11. Chris

    Shame on Smiths Falls councillors. Not all individuals and/or families are on assistance by choice. To struggle financially daily takes a huge toll on an individuals mental, physical and spiritual health. To reject such a program is very short sighted. Maybe it should be suggested that a few councillors live in actual poverty for 12 months, then come back to the table with the reality check they so obviously need. Then just maybe Smiths Falls would move into the 21st century.

  12. Darlene kantor

    I’m a working Disabled person working .which lm trying to make a liveing. I believe they should let basic income come into smiths l said l work. And my wages keep going down.this basic income would help peaple like myself.and other disabilty peaple trying to make a liveing and still can’t make it would help peaple get thier rents hydo bills and thier would be less homeless peaple.or peaple in smiths falls going though the garbage looking for a meal to eat.why should the town of smiths falls disagree helping the disabilty peaple plus peaple on old age pensions if are Goverment wants to try this.please let them try it .in smiths falls.l see so many peaple go homeless.becouse of high rents and then high food costs and other bills they need to pay just to stay warm. In the winter

  13. Dennis Riggs

    Let’s look at this:

    Smiths Falls residents could recieve a financial assistance that would allow them to meet basic needs and better their circumstance, with education and other tools more easily obtained when needs are met.

    Smiths Falls is as a municipality currently suffering from the ill effects of poverty, which affects residents and local businesses in a negative way.

    Local residents that qualified for the assistants would likely spend much of that assistance locally, not only benefitting themselves but the entire local economy. Everyone would benefit.

    The net cost to the town of Smiths Falls for aprticipting in a program delivered by the province: $0. Zero dollars.

    Thankfully, it is not up to the town council.

    Local residents that want to participate and think that the economically depressed municipality of Smiths Falls would be a good testing place should simply write their MPP Randy Hillier and tell him why your area should be a testing area.

    Also write to Lanark County officials and advise them of the same : (scroll down for a complete listing of emails to Lanark Council)

    One hopes that the Province will look at local economic conditions to find it’s testing areas, and Smiths Falls could very well be a good area for testing on those grounds. But having your MPP and County officials know you want them to try and participate will not hurt and could help.

  14. Kim

    Funny how everything is being blamed on 2 councillors, takes more than 2 to reject this proposal. Even the CAO suspects there would be a cost to the town, which Smiths Falls can not afford. Perhaps in future Mr. Pankow should remember he is only the Mayor and that council should have been told of his intentions to look into this pilot project. That way there could have been more studies done about it.

  15. Robin Hawe

    I spoke of Poverty Reduction that I had learned at a Conference. I had glazed eyes staring back at me.

  16. Wanda

    I suffer from anxiety and depression and my finances do not help with my situation. Getting up in the morning is a chore at times, trying to find something to put together to make a decent healthy meal is a chore, and now being diagnosed with diabetes? How is someone supposed to keep your health up when you cant afford to get the proper nutrition?
    Shame on you councillors for not thinking of the people who suffer daily.

  17. Fran Arthurs

    Unbelievable that anyone would want to turn down a pilot project that would address poverty and provide dignity to people who are marginalized. Instead, we have vague and condescending comments about investing in education. Really? We have the most educated society in the history of the planet, and we still struggle with poverty. I hope the project gets a green light through Lanark County. It’s a progressive step in the right direction.

  18. Laura Sargent

    How do we go about appealing the town council’s decision? Smiths Falls could benefit greatly by this project. It would mean better revenue for the local economy witch in turn means more jobs and less local businesses closing there doors.

  19. Terry Dillabough

    I cannot see why we as a town could not be motivated to be part of a possible solution to poverty, addiction, joblessness . Instead we continue down the road of business as usual where fewer effective solutions can be implemented to battle today’s problems. To say that the county would be a better place to effect change is not why these people should be councilors. The reason to run for office is to take on programs such as this to improve the lives of those we serve. Come election time I will not forget this day.

  20. Darlene kantor

    I talked to the mayor yesterday .he wants this basic income but town cancel or. Don’t want it. Perth mayor has agreed for this basic income.why is smiths falls town cancels .in smiths falls don’t want basic income..don’t they want to see more sending in smiths falls where peaple in poverty. Can spend on food and things they need to survive. I feel thier wrong.not to a prove this.please give peaple in poverty. A chance for a better lm meeting up with CBC NEWS. HOPE ING THE TOWN WILL DECIDED DIFFERENT ABOUT THIER COMMUNITY. AND THE POVERTY THIS IS IN SMITHS FALLS

  21. tom marc

    The people who elected these councillors can make their voice heard and change this horrible decision.It is worth marching on the council office.

  22. Df

    So we’re going to educate the public on how to earn a living regardless of there personal physical or mental battles. The track record of the province tells me that by the time this ever takes place it will be the next generation who will benefit. The precedent from 1970 proves to be more effective and quicker way to create a more stress free way of life for all residing here in Sensational Smiths Falls. The public consensus on the street is the only sensation in Smiths Falls is the sensation of poverty and dismay. Smarten up . Your supposed to have our backs.

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