Ontario moving toward basic income pilot

The Government of Ontario is moving to undertake a basic income pilot project. In recent weeks it has been receiving expert information and advice, for example from Jurgen De Wispelaere (formerly on the Board of Basic Income Canada Network and now a member of its new Advisory Council). On May 26th De Wispelaere presented to the government’s Deputy Ministers Social Policy Committee.

Two of the most knowledgeable experts concerning the Manitoba Mincome experiment of the 1970s are its former executive director, Dr. Ron Hikel, and University of Manitoba economist and researcher Dr. Evelyn Forget. At the recent North American Basic Income Congress in Winnipeg, Dr. Hikel spoke about Mincome and lessons learned that could be applied to the Ontario pilot. I also recommend watching Dr. Forget’s appearance on June 13th on Steve Paikin’s program, The Agenda: the 17 minute video reflects Evelyn’s sweeping knowledge of the history and results of Mincome.

Another encouraging sign of the Ontario government’s seriousness behind giving basic income a try was its appointment last month of the Hon. Hugh Segal as the pilot’s special advisor.  A trailblazer for basic income in Canada over the past 40 years, Mr. Segal will now “deliver a discussion paper to the province by the fall to help inform the design and implementation of the pilot….The discussion paper will include advice about potential criteria for selecting target populations and/or locations, delivery models and advice about how the province could evaluate the results of the basic income pilot” (source).

Ontario’s Premier, the Hon. Kathleen Wynne, has publicly recognized that Ontario needs to investigate basic income as an alternative to welfare. Among welfare’s many problems: its profound stigmatization of “clients” of the system. And on that, I recommend David Calnitsky’s fine academic paper exploring the non-stigmatizing effects of Manitoba Mincome.

by Rob Rainer
Basic Income Advocate and Member, Advisory Council of Basic Income Canada Network

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4 comments

  • I like the idea of Basic Income, but it needs to be framed differently so that it creates a culture of ‘giving back’ and ‘ingenuity’ rather than a culture of ‘Society owes me’ and ‘I don’t need to do anything to get by’. If an income and support was available to everyone from carers to inventors, to artists to entrepreneurs to growers of vegetables, child minders, the elderly, etc… and money was spread through communities for giving back to society.. and the ethos behind it was a sustainable economy based on the well being of all, it might be a great thing. If not basic income is too reminiscent of the British Dole of the 80’s. I knew too many wasters living on the dole to believe that can work!

    • It’s not money to help until you find work. It’s a basic income for EVERYONE regardless of their situation, and not means tested. This means no signing on, no money paid to companies to test you, and any job or work you do is extra. on top.
      This will probably cut crime as well.
      What did those “wasters” ever do to you apart from being there? What business is it if any of us to sit in judgement on how people manage their own lives?

    • Steve Gould

      Thanks for the great response Leone McDermott. To add on to it a bit: When the trial was done in Dauphin, Manitoba in the 1970’s only 2 groups of people chose to not work: teenage boys stayed in school longer (either completing high school or attending post secondary), and mothers with new borns stayed home with toddlers for an extra couple of years rather than immediate return after mat leave.

  • Michael

    According to the government – you have to earn what you receive. If you don’t work – you don’t get.

    Big problem.

    Most jobs are filing paper no one will read, building subways no one will use, and buying coffees and burgers you can just eat at home.

    The government is over-stating the value of most jobs in order to convince society that some people matter and some people don’t.

    If your main income in Mincome – or should I call it welfare – its real name – you don’t matter and the government likes when your poor.

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