25 Apr 2017

Basic income to be trialled in Ontario

5:17 pm on 25 April 2017

Canada's largest province is experimenting with giving poor people a basic income with no strings attached.

Canadian money

The basic income program would cost $50m Canadian a year Photo: 123RF

The three-year study will test whether the basic income was better than current social welfare programmes.

Randomly selected participants living in three communities in Ontario would be given at least $C16,989 a year to live on.

The pilot project is to be rolled out in Hamilton and Thunder Bay this spring, and Lindsay this fall.

The program would cost $50m a year, and would include 4000 households from across those three communities. Participants must have lived in one of the areas for over a year, be between 18-64 and be living on a lower income.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said it is time to be "bold" in figuring out how to help society's most vulnerable.

"This is no time to retreat, this is no time for government to cling to the status quo," she said.

Ontario is not the only one trying this policy out.

Finland recently launched its own trial in January, and the Scottish government has expressed interest.

The idea is popular with both progressives and libertarians alike because it has the potential to reduce poverty and cut out red tape.

Single adults would be given a annual income of $16,989, while couples would get $24,027, minus 50 percent of any income earned from a job.

By allowing people to keep part of their earnings, the government hoped people would be encouraged to work and not rely solely on assistance.

"It's not an extravagant sum by any means," Ms Wynne said.

She said many people who were struggling in the province were employed part-time and needed additional assistance to make ends meet.