Canada’s basic income pilot project will be coming to Hamilton, Lindsay, and Thunder Bay, Ontario, according to Premier Kathleen Wynne. According to the Hamilton Spectator, Wynne announced the details of the basic income pilot this morning in a press conference. According to CBC News on Twitter, the Hamilton pilot will include Brantford.
The invitation-only conference was held at Liuna Station in Hamilton, starting at 9 a.m. and was live-streamed to YouTube; Wynne spent most of the time focused on her provincial government’s past achievements. But ultimately, she announced that the pilot will be launched in Hamilton, Thunder Bay, and Lindsay, covering urban, rural, and northern communities (as per recommendations). It will run for three years “to start” and will provide just under $17,000 annually for a single person.
The program is set to begin in Hamilton and Thunder Bay in the late spring; the Lindsay pilot will begin this fall. The pilot will begin with 1,000 low-income participants in the Hamilton area. Ultimately, the program will cover 4,000 Ontario households and cost $50 million each year.
“The changing nature of work is leaving some people vulnerable,” said Wynne. “They’re working contract-to-contract, or they’re otherwise dealing with an unstable or precarious work situation. They can be let go with no warning. As a result, some people can slip into poverty.”
“The project will explore the effectiveness of providing a basic income to people who are currently living on low incomes, whether they’re working or not. And people participating in our pilot communities will receive a minimum amount of income each year, a basic income, no matter what.
“It’s not an extravagant sum by any means, for a single person we’re talking about just under $17,000 a year. But even that amount may make a real difference to someone who’s striving to reach a better life.”
According to CBC News, a parallel program will be launched for First Nations peoples.
Ontario’s basic income plan has been in the works for some time; it really gained momentum when the Liberal Canadian government commissioned a report on the potential of basic income from the Honourable Hugh Segal, a Conservative Canadian political strategist. Segal concluded that “the only fundamental mistake one might make with respect to a Basic Income Pilot would be not to try to test its impacts.”
“In short, poverty hurts all of us, and poverty costs all of society vast amounts of money.”
Segal has the numbers to back up his words: almost a decade ago, a report issued by the Ontario Association of Food Banks suggested that poverty is costing Ontario some $32 billion to $38 billion dollars a year, and he points out that many analyses fail to account for the true cost of poverty. From healthcare to policing to education, the costs of poverty are felt across society. Many analysts believe that the significantly lower administration costs from replacing current social security programs with a simple, universal basic income alone may be sufficient for the program to essentially pay for itself.
Ontario’s basic income pilot, while certainly not as extensive as one might hope, proposes to put those theories — and many more — to the test. Ultimately, all research to date points to a significant positive outcome from a basic income, on many levels, and now Ontario will have a chance to prove it.
[Featured Image by Carlos Osorio/AP Images]