Basic Income: The ultimate back-to-school tool

Fleming College in Lindsay. Basic income allows more freedom to pursue post-secondary education.

Sherry Mendowegan feels very lucky that she already paid her tuition and bought books for the upcoming school year. The mother-of-two in Thunder Bay was using money from Ontario’s basic income pilot project to help cover the costs of going back to school. In July, the new Progressive Conservative government announced it would “wind down” the program two years early, without warning participants.

“We were pretty devastated,” Mendowegan told HuffPost Canada. “[Premier Doug Ford] doesn’t realize what he’s doing to us.” Despite the bad news, Mendowegan still plans to study office administration at Confederation College this fall.

Mendowegan decided to go back to school in 2017 after the birth of her second child, a girl named Isabella. She mapped out a plan to get her high school diploma, driver’s license and college degree in three years, and her spouse Dan agreed to stay home and watch the new baby. Her plan to attend college would not have happened without the basic income. Her example casts doubt on one of the key arguments opponents of a basic income make: That handing out money would prompt many people to give up on further education, as they would feel less need for it.

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