Photo exhibit gives voice to those affected by cancellation of Ontario basic income pilot

Photo exhibit gives voice to those affected by cancellation of Ontario basic income pilot

The basic income pilot, run in Hamilton, Brantford, Thunder Bay and Lindsay, was to provide 4,000 Ontario residents with $17,000 dollars a year for three years.

The program, however, was abruptly cancelled by the provincial government back in August.

Now, one of the pilot’s Hamilton participants, Jessie Golem, has created a photo exhibit documenting the experience of those who say they are facing an uncertain future as a result of the cancellation.

Golem says participants were hoping to make positive changes in their lives.

“People were using basic income to get out of poverty, they were using it to get better jobs, go back to school, find safer housing, eat healthier,” Gollem said. “Afford dignity, I guess.”

So when the program was cancelled, Golem met with other participants and photographed them holding a sign, detailing, in their own words, what difference the pilot was making to them.

“There’s something very visceral about seeing the sign and they wrote it out themselves,” Golem said. “This is their story and that’s what I wanted to do: I wanted to amplify their voices and tell their stories in their own words.”

After Golem started to take part in the basic income project, her friend, Gloria Proctor Bennett, said she could see a difference in her.

“She just looked so much healthier, her face was fuller, she was glowing, she looked so much better than she had before, and it was all because she had enough money to be able to afford to eat properly, and to get her life in order,” Bennett said.

Golem says the exhibition of photographs, Humans of Basic Income, will be travelling across the country to illustrate how important a basic income is to all Canadians.

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