Ontario is launching a pilot project in Thunder Bay to assess whether a basic income can better support vulnerable workers, improve health and education outcomes for people on low incomes, and help ensure that everyone shares in Ontario’s economic growth. The three-year study will test how a basic income might expand opportunities and job prospects of those living on low incomes, while providing greater security for them and their families. Ontario’s economy is in a relatively strong position, however many people in the province are not feeling that growth in their everyday lives. People are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living and facing “precarious employment” with little job security or benefits. This pilot will study whether a basic income can bridge that gap and give people the security and opportunity they need to achieve their potential. Thunder Bay and surrounding area is one of three regions that will take part in the study, which also includes Hamilton and Lindsay. The pilot in Lindsay will start in the fall.
The Basic Income model Ontario has developed will ensure that eligible participants receive:
▪ Up to $16,989 per year for a single person, less 50 per cent of any earned income
▪ Up to $24,027 per year for a couple, less 50 per cent of any earned income
▪ Up to an additional $6,000 per year for a person with a disability.
A basic income supports people to begin or continue working, or to further their education. Participants in the pilot will be able to increase their total income by combining a basic income with 50 cents from every dollar they earn at work. Through this pilot, people who earn less than the basic income amount through employment will receive regular payments to help them better afford basic needs such as housing and food. The three test regions will host 4,000 participants eligible to receive a basic income payment, between the ages of 18 to 64. By late spring, randomly selected individuals in Thunder Bay and surrounding area will begin receiving information about the pilot and invitations to apply. Eligible individuals will be randomly selected to participate. Participation will be voluntary, and participants can opt out at any time. Ontario is also in the early stages of planning a separate, parallel First Nations Basic Income Pilot, co-created and designed with First Nations partners. Ontario’s approach to basic income is a simplified way to deliver income support that provides a floor under which nobody can fall, regardless of their circumstances. The design was based on advice received from Special Advisor on Basic Income, Hugh Segal, who delivered his report in November. It was also informed by the thousands of people and organizations that the province heard from during province-wide consultations.
“Our government is taking the lead in testing basic income through a pilot that will gather evidence on this approach from a made-in-Ontario point of view. I know constituents in Thunder Bay and area, as well as our municipal leaders and those agencies involved in poverty reduction, will be interested in learning more about this approach and whether it could be a simple way to tackle poverty and help people living on low incomes.”
— MPP Bill Mauro, Thunder Bay-Atikokan
“The Ontario Basic Income Pilot will be testing a new approach to income support in a careful, step-by-step way to ensure we get it right. We are starting small, and using the lessons learned as we build the pilot out in further phases. Our goal is to better understand whether this approach could help people living on low incomes in their everyday lives.”
— Dr. Helena Jaczek, Minister of Community and Social Services
“Every person struggling in poverty is a person denied the ability to reach for a better life. The Basic Income Pilot will help us test ways to make everyday life easier for Ontarians by removing barriers that still stand in the way of improved health, employment and housing for too many among us. Testing a Basic Income is just one way we’re working to ensure that every family has the dignity and security of a life free from poverty.”
— Chris Ballard, Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy
▪ Ontario is one of a number of places, including Finland, Kenya and the Netherlands, that have launched or are considering a basic income program.
▪ People eligible for the Ontario Basic Income Pilot will be randomly chosen to receive the basic income or to be part of a control group who don’t receive it.
▪ People receiving support through Ontario Works who enter the pilot will continue to receive the Ontario Drug Benefit, and people on the Ontario Disability Support Program will continue to receive the Ontario Drug Benefit and dental benefits.
▪ A single person earning $10,000 per year from a part-time job would receive an additional $11,989 in basic income ($16,989 less 50% of their earned income), for a total income of $21,989.
▪ A third-party research consortium that will evaluate the study will be announced shortly. The province will also form an advisory group with research and evaluation experts to ensure that the pilot is conducted with the utmost integrity, rigour and ethical standards.
▪ Find out more about eligibility for the Ontario Basic Income Pilot
▪ Advice to the government in the Honourable Hugh Segal’s discussion paper
▪ A video on the basics of Basic Income
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