Canada's largest province to launch universal basic income trial

Time to be 'bold' to help most vulnerable in society, says Ontario Premier

Harriet Agerholm
Tuesday 25 April 2017 20:00
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Canada is trialing universal basic income

Canada’s largest province is to trial universal income, becoming the first North American government to test the progressive policy for decades.

Some 4,000 people in Ontario will be given at least C$16,989 (£9,850) a year under the scheme, with no conditions or restrictions attached.

Participants living in three settlements in Ontario will be selected at random to participate in the radical scheme, which advocates hail as a solution to poverty and costly bureaucracy.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said the scheme was needed to address “new challenges” presented by the modern world.

“From technology to Trump, it is a time of greater uncertainty and change,” Ms Wynne said as she announced the trial on Monday.

She added that it was time to be “bold” to help the most vulnerable in society.

“This is no time to retreat, this is no time for government to cling to the status quo, or step away from its responsibilities,” she said. “This is the time for us to be focussed and fair.”

The three-year pilot will assist those in low-paying or precarious employment and those already receiving social assistance.

The Premier said the money offered by the trial was “not an extravagant sum by any means”, but it will offer a small increase for those on social assistance and disability benefits.

Those in work will have their basic income reduced by 50 cents with every dollar they earn. All participants will continue to receive child or disability benefits.

The programme – launching in Hamilton and Thunder Bay in the spring and Lindsay this autumn – will cost C$50m (£29m) a year.

Finland launched a trial of universal income in January. Two thousand people are to receive 560 euros (£480) every month for two years, without having to report whether they are seeking employment or how they are spending the money.

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