Some residents living in Thunder Bay and Hamilton area are finding invitations in their mailbox this week, inviting them to participate in Ontario’s basic income pilot.
The basic income pilot is one of a suite of initiatives launched by the Ontario Liberals to help lower income Ontarians, including the creation of:
- a $15 minimum wage
- 100,000 news childcare spaces
- a fair housing plan
- a basic income pilot in three cities, to see if there’s a better way of supporting people
- a pharmacare plan with free medication for those under the age of 25.
- free college and university tuition for more than 200 000 students, tied to income level
A basic income ensures everyone an income sufficient to meet basic needs and live with dignity, regardless of work status.
Residents of Thunder Bay and Hamilton – the latter including Brantford and Brant County – are being asked to participate in the pilot randomly. About 1,000 people in the Thunder Bay area and the same amount in the Hamilton area will be selected. Later this fall, about 2,000 participants will be invited from the town of Lindsay, making it a vital part of the pilot to test behaviours, work patterns, health and mental health outcomes, housing stability, educational attainment, and how the community as a whole may benefit.
The plan is to invite a mix of people into the program, such as those who are working but not working enough to stay out of poverty, those who are currently on social assistance, and homeless people.
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 percent of any earned income
- Up to $24,027 per year for a couple, less 50 percent of any earned income
- Up to an additional $6,000 per year for a person with a disability.
According to CBC, a fact sheet mailed along with the application package in Thunder Bay states people may be eligible to take part in the program if they are 18 to 64 years old, have lived in the Thunder Bay area for the past 12 months and meet one of a number of income thresholds in 2016, including:
- earning less than $33,978 if single
- earning less than $48,054 if a couple
- earning less than $45,978 if single with a disability
- earning less than $60,054 if one person in a couple has a disability
- earning less than $72,054 if both people in a couple have a disability
Basic income policy is gaining increasing traction in Canada.
In Prince Edward Island, the Legislature agreed unanimously to have the province work with the federal government in the hope of running a Basic Income pilot on the island.
The Quebec Liberal government hinted strongly in its recent budget that some form of basic income guarantee is imminent – but likely only for a small portion of the province, at least to begin with. Quebec will bypass any testing of the program and instead will begin a restrained roll-out of a minimum income program aimed at lifting the most vulnerable out of poverty.
In a power-sharing deal that might transform the political landscape of British Columbia, the New Democratic Party (NDP) and Green Party are committing to run a basic income pilot.