News; News & Events

ONTARIO, CANADA: New Report on Minimum Income Pilot

Ontario’s provincial government is on track to begin a pilot study of a guaranteed minimum income, according to the latest comments by former Conservative senator Hugh Segal. A more detailed report will be available in mid-September.

In June, the government of Ontario appointed Hugh Segal — a long-time proponent of a guaranteed income — to advise officials in the design and implementation of the pilot study, which is currently on track to begin before April 2017.

The pilot is designed to test a guaranteed minimum income, in which participants’ total incomes are topped up to above the poverty line. This income subsidy will supplement any support received from existing anti-poverty programs, which will not be eliminated or replaced during the pilot.

Thus, although it is often referred to by the term ‘basic income’, the policy to be tested in Ontario should be distinguished from the commonly discussed “demogrant” model of basic income, wherein all individuals receive a regular payment of the same amount, regardless of other earnings or total income. Ontario will be investigating a program that supplements the earnings only of individuals whose incomes are below a certain level (e.g. the poverty line). In this respect, the pilot is similar to Manitoba’s well-known “Mincome” experiment of the late 1970s.

As under a demogrant model, however, there would be no work requirement or other conditions that poor Canadians would need to meet to qualify for the guaranteed minimum income. All would be eligible, whether working or not.

According to CBC News’ most recent report (dated August 30), Segal has suggested that the government could run two types of pilots: one in a small community in which the entire community would receive a guaranteed income (as was the case in the Mincome experiment), and another involving a sample of individuals within a large community. The latter design would allow the beneficiaries of the guaranteed income to be compared against a control group, as in the recently-announced design of the basic income experiment in Finland.

Statements in the CBC’s article suggest that the participation in the pilot will be voluntary [1]. This would contrast with the Finnish experiment — in which, as a measure to prevent bias in the sample, participation is mandatory for those individuals selected to participate.

The CBC News report also notes Ontario will not receive direct financial support from Canada’s federal government — despite the fact that the majority Liberal Party endorsed guaranteed annual income as party policy at its convention in May. The provincial government itself has earmarked $25 million for the pilot.

According to CBC, Segal is planning to publicize a preliminary report on the pilot project in mid-September, making it available for three months of public consultation.


[1] Context: “…the pilot will not eliminate or consolidate existing poverty-reduction programs, but rather be designed as a top-up to such programs to lift its voluntary participants above the poverty line [emphasis added].”


Addendum (December 8): In light of the continued high frequency of view of this post, we note that the report in question was published on November 3. See the Basic Income News summary — and links to the full report — here.



Dean Beeby, “Ontario to test guaranteed-income program amid warnings about costs, effectiveness“, CBC News; August 30, 2016.

Roderick Benns, “New report out for Ontario pilot on basic income“, Basic Income Canada Network; August 30, 2016.

Rob Rainer, “Ontario moving toward basic income pilot”, Basic Income News; July 23, 2016.
André Coelho, “CANADA: Ontario reaches further into basic income implementation”, Basic Income News; June 26, 2016.

Photo CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Commonwealth Secretariat

About Kate McFarland

Kate McFarland has written 512 articles.

Former lead writer and editor of Basic Income News.

The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.


  • Lori Laundry

    Is it possible for Peterborough, ON to be one of those test sites??? If so, I’d be very interested in volunteering!

  • Lost hope

    I give up all hope of better days for the poor ..This plan is all talk no action ..If any action it wont hit the ones who need it today And i do mean today not even one more year of more talk ..We need this NOW!! And not wait for many years to come .There is no hope for this project to actually get to those who need it today!!!! Not years from now ..By then many of us will be too sick for any of these pipe dreams to help us .. .Yours truly/ Sick of government bull and promises of things we will never see today … . …This is how it seems to us who need this help NOW ..(. Government says …Here want a carrot… Oh great we know u want it, but you gotta wait for a few more years) .. Im so done even listening to the income hopes.. Sept 2016

  • SanMan

    They got a lot of money for the refugees and immigrants but no money for the poor Canadians. How sad

    • Gail

      100% agree….us poor Canadians have been like this a long time holding on to hope that things would get better and the Government has never cared to do anything about it all these years ! Then out of some magic hat …POOF … they have millions for refugees ? What is Trudeau secretly up to ?

    • Kathy

      I agree. I AM SO ANGRY I could scream. I worked & paid taxes All
      My life. I end up on ODSP / Didability after working & paying taxes ALL My Life. Living on odsp OR welfare as you know is pure Hell. !
      No money for anything. !!! I use to make $. 23.00 Am hour. Almost 20 years in the same place / Kraft Canada. –Christies Bakery.
      Now I NEED MONEY they put this BS pilot project out that does NOT INCLUDE Everyone on welfare
      OR Disability. WHY On earth would this take 3 To 5 Years to figure out IF the ppl are better off etc.
      Cmon man. Give us credit Wynne for having brains here. Your NOT handing each a million dollars. My God !!
      Plus she’s wondering WHERE the $$
      Will come from. Well. Well. Well.
      Trudeau seems to have LOTS of money to GIVE FREELY TO THE MIDDLE EAST OR CHINA OF To Pay.
      Muslim woman & yes others coming here illegally through Manitoba to have their babies here. Plus more.get my point ????
      So we as you say NEES the money Now !!!
      I emailed. Few to Wynne telling her I haven’t bought ANY NEW SUMMER Clothes in A very long time !
      Why do they feel the need to cherry pick 4,000 ppl
      Working and not.
      EXAMPLE :
      17 year old female
      Works at McDonalds
      Her Yearly income Is $10,000
      Well she will get the money
      Which they WILL ADD FOR FREE EACH MONTH $16,000
      Now she gets $26,000 A year
      As you and I sit here GETTING SCREWED OVER !!
      She is now above the poverty line as are 3,900 MORE WINDFALL WINNERS !
      As us LOSERS Sit at home BELOW THE POVERTY LINE They are now eating steak as we CONTINUE TO EAT HOT DOGS OR What ever
      I as you as MANY PPL AM
      But it will get us No where unless we petitioning this BS GET VOTES SCAM
      FOR WYNNE ???????
      This is Canada and how dare her put ppl on the pilot project and leave US = THE REAL PPL WHO SHOUD GET ON IT. DO NOT KNOW WHY PPL ARE ON WELFARE AND NOT ODSP OR NOT WORKING = I
      all increases Trudeau makes kills us.

      I PAY THIS ON $1 100 a month.
      With a little help or else I WOULD Be living in. A TENT.
      THIS IS SO

  • Hungering Winds

    While Hugh Segal is an honorable man, there’s practically been a media blackout regarding his report. Did it not come out? Is there issues with implementation? Nothing us being said which leaves people like me in the dark about our future.

    The time to act is now, but my fear is between the circus goung on south of the border and the puppet show going on at Queen’s Park, we’ll never see a true resolution and implementation of this progressive report.

    It really saddens me as a low-income Aboriginal Canadian.

    • Here in the south-of-the-border circus-cum-freak-show, I’m hoping to immigrate to ON or MB so as to be within annual visiting distance of my children and grandchildren near Chicago. I am filled with disgust and shame at how the US has been pulled so far off from founding ideals. We are steeped in a culture of knee-jerk anti-socialism, anti-science, anti-you-name-it, such that I can’t imagine our graft-pickled legislators ever trying to go against the vaunted “rugged individualism” shibboleth that stifles open BI, single-payer healthcare, or socialist discussion. It seems to many here that Canada has long tended to go a better way.

      I am developing a high-tech invention around which to start a company, and I prefer it be Canadian, It won’t ever be large or employ more than a dozen people.. My notion of law-limited capitalism has an underlay of socialist mutual responsibility. I think it is a workable mutualism.

      One disappointment I must admit to: Canada enacted a Bill of (citizens’) Rights fairly recently. Only those rights and interferences that government is to enjoy should be enumerated, the assumption being always in favor of the private person. A list can gradually be read narrowly and chipped away.

      Health to my northern cousins, of every ethnicity and health and ability status. All success to you, At very least, I’m starting to know more of you and overcome my romantic notions about your ways. . –Dec 2016

  • andrea

    So pilot (usually low study power) and make it a significantly different policy (different data and definitions) than in other well developed current studies occurring in the Western developed world to be able to conclude “it doesn’t work”. “Too dumb to succeed”
    Yet bureaucrats and technocrats still get paid well with their status quo, management behaviour and policy slugs.

    • Brian Elwin Pomeroy

      If the people, all people, protest for the poor it will come back. The poor will spend, they will not hide the money in a tax haven.

  • Josie

    So.. Why should I stay at my 40k job when I could make more flipping fries with basic income? Gonna have a negative impact on middle income jobs.

    • Josie

      Give Basic Income to everybody.

    • Trevor

      Then that’s your choice. Many people still work after winning millions. Millionaires that don’t need to work… still work. We need people to make crap food…. it’s a massive business.

      Leave the complex jobs for people that don’t need nor care about money… you loser.

    • Andre Coelho


      Watch for the name-calling. Different views on things are Ok, but insulting is not.



    • No thanks

      Then do it. I’ll take your 40k a year job

    • Gail

      OMG…..selfish ! Did you even think that many of those low income people are mentally or physically disabled and cannot work or wouldn’t stand a chance in the working world with the competition for jobs ? You should be grateful you can work and make 40k ! Ill take your job for 40k and you can live on 775 a month and have my disabilities to live with too ! Why would decent human being blessed enough to have 40k be so selfish to not want to see someone who has lived in poverty do better ? OMG !

    • Have a say

      Having a mental health issue, how is more money gonna help with that. Isn’t it better to create something else to help. More money never sloves anything. The government keeps throwing money at native communities without seeing much improvement.

    • Cheryl

      If everyone gets it then you will pay big-time taxes. Then have to grumble every tax time. There are several things they are looking at and one is everyone so people will want to get a job and do better but they have made it clear that if you take it then you will be taxed on all your income and most people don’t want the higher taxes. Can’t imagine living on the small wage they are offering. But people can quit their jobs and live in poverty and if they choose. It is your right. If you work at McDonald’s and get the guaranteed income then you will pay taxes on full amount because your income is over minimum so it is not so easy to make that decision. Hopefully they do bring out something that is fair and with a basic income the poor can work their way into the work force to have a better life and that is what it is suppose to do. Grass is not always greener on the other side. Hope this helps a little.

    • “Follow your bliss!” If your 40K job is fulfilling (–odds off), stay. If it’s abusive, family-stressing, corruption-urging (–odds on), chuck it, back off, get creative and build jobs for yourself and others, Pay VAT and profits tax, help the whole society work well.

    • Al

      Seriously bud. If you think flipping fries is a fulfilling job by all means do it.

      Do you think people work flipping fries because they love to do it? (No offense to those that do)

      UBI will grant freedom to people to do what they love instead of being stuck flipping fries to make ends meet.

  • hur kyung chan

    All talk no action so far. I want to work long hours But I am too weak and sick to work full time.I need some financial support.The sooner , the better.

  • Dexy

    In 50 years time, unemployment could be as much as 75%, so we should start to get used to it now. 50 years is a long time, but it won’t be a long time in 25 years. It will arrive soon enough. To have the choice whether to work or not, or to work 10, 12, 15 or 20 hours a week instead of being worked to death should be welcomed by everyone who’s not obsessed with massive houses, BMW’s and the like. We won’t need to worry about Pensions, the income would be paid until the day we die. One would only have to suffer the stress and pressures of work when one chooses to. Job share would be common thing, and everyone could live quite happily whether they worked or not. Ones TV may only be 32″” rather than 50″”, but when people get it in to their thick skulls that ‘bigger and better than someone else’ will soon be a thing of the past, and only the greedy and power mad will be losing sleep about the system. The rest of us could easily stop these greed mongers in their tracks. Delivered properly, this system is brilliant, and should be adopted by every country in the world.

  • Tika

    Will themail trial be in Renfrew Ontario??

  • Just Hoping

    Will the trial be in Renfrew Ontario

  • Sue Teeter

    I have heard for so many years about getting people out of poverty, yet month after month my odsp check it cut down by however many dollars,I can’t even afford to watch t.v. My check is 400 bucks a month and that is supposed to be for groceries,bills, etcIf the government plans on using a universal basic income for all of Ontario I wish they would quit talking about it and put it into action. Never mind this trying it out on whatever community first till they decide to back up their words. My husband died not ago and the widow’s pesion I get from canada pension when he died is taken off my odsp check which I don’t think it should be,but odsp does whatever it wants. Another thing I don’t think is right is that ontario works,and ontario housing all have acces to the odsp files and vice versa, whatever happened to confidentiality ?

  • cindy genders

    I think that London should get the triel so many people have to chose between rent and food or hydro

    • Kathy

      So do we in SIMCOE County. /area
      Wasaga Beach. Plus Barrie. Plus Angus .plus Where I live ( Collingwood ) plus Stayner. Plus many towns all around.
      No jobs. No Affordable Housing.
      THIS IN MY MIND IS WYNNE’s Way Go keep her in ppl ‘a minds for them
      To Vote for her. ???
      Then watch it be dropped come the next election. But if they have money to house cloth feed etc Muslim Refugees plus all the Border Walkers coming in through Manitoba. Ppl there are worried with the summer coming which WILL BRING In much more FAKE REFUGEES being brought in by. NYC Taxi company.
      Back to the point at hand.
      I feel we’re being screwed and lied to. They ARE Cherry picking ppl to give them 3 TO 5 BS YEARS to be ABOVE POVERTY AS US LOSERS TO WYNNE BAG WILL STILL BE BROKE. WEEK TO WEEK. OR DAY TO DAY.
      NOW THATS 100%++++++++ BS ??

  • Does Ontario have hope?

    St. Catharines – Niagara Region should get the trial, about 9-10% unemployment rate, about 1/4 children living in poverty, 1 in 7 families (singles or family group) in Niagara Region living below the poverty line. Statistically one of the lowest median household incomes in Ontario. Plus the Niagara region is basically an area trapped in time capsule, especially St. Catharines… Been saying the same thing for the past 15-20 years… Opportunities are pretty much scarce here unless you’re interested now in the winery industry or hospitality and tourism.

    • John Smith

      You could have just said Niagara Region without specifying St. Catharines. The region doesn’t revolve around St Catharines.

    • Kathy

      I hear you. It’s Not fair. Even Trudeau don’t care. He is to busy giving his Muslim Refugees WHAT EVER THEY WANT OR NEED AS WE SIT LIKE FOOLS. AND CAN NOT AFFORD NEW SUMMER CLOTHES ITS 100% BS AS Far as I am
      Concerned. 4,000
      Ppl working. Not working. YES IT SAID PPL NEW TO CANADA. WTF ???
      All our jobs went to the USA. We have no Affordable housing. We have nothing. Here. Nothing. Except the regular jobs in towns.
      Walmart. Tim Hortons. McDonalds and places like that. Without them we don’t really have much !!

  • Linda Edwards

    I like my job but its only partime and they have machines taking over selfserve which people think is great its better than hiring staff so they cut hours and staff and replace us with machines. You can’t raise kids on partime hours. Let’s face it companies put us out of work and we r expected to accept this. They call it the computer era. I am raising a child with a severe learning diabilty and my job hours are flexible. With basic income it will help us get threw the days we don’t have enough.

  • Hannah Dickson

    Hi, I have sent my e mail to you a few times to get updated reports that are never sent, what is going on?

  • Grace Osabu-Kle

    I think that basic income is a good idea. Especially for people on disability who cannot work, this will lift us out of poverty and thus less trips to use healthcare facility.I will like to add that a basic income of $30000 a year instead of $22000 a year will raise the financial well-being of the vulnerable on disability. You will have enough for food and clothing and be able to put some in RDSP for when you are old. I think $30000 a year as initially thought by the provincial government should be implemented for the disabled. Those who are healthy and can work should get less ($22000 a year). Because the disabled cannot work to top up the $22000 a year, they should be given $30000 a year to ensure adequate income for a healthy living among the disabled population. The halmark of a civilized society is how well it takes care of the vulnerable in society.

    • Abby

      $ 22000…better than I am doing at $9300 per year ! I struggle to keep food in my house all month, rent, bills , transportation ( bus) costs, personal or sanitary needs , replacing clothing worn out , winter clothing etc..and if emergencies come up like getting sick and needing over the counter medications to feel better IE :cough medicines etc.. I am out of luck ! I do without needs a lot of the time and its very depressing. You can only ask for help so many times and than people get tired of it and look down on you. Its degrading, humiliating and embarrassing ! I get bladder infections often and the Dr. says drink lots of cranberry juice etc.. and I am thinking I have no money for that…..all I have is water. If I get the flu its the same thing ..I never have money for anything to help me get better and sometimes not even Tylenol in the house for the fever and aches.

    • Rod

      Very well said Grace..

  • unknown

    I agree with Abby, I’m in the same boat. I struggle to keep medicine in the house for my daughter when she gets sick, clothes are grown out of quickly with kids too and need to be replaced. Then there is what my husband and I need as well…it sucks to be barely able to make ends meet. I can’t even put money away for retirement because of how expensive things are these days. I see immigrants getting more than some that work just because they are new to Canada. New cars, new clothes, no worries about food in the fridge either. Then I look at my daughter and wonder why it’s so hard for me to do the same for her…why can’t I buy her a new toy now and then? It’s because the government doesn’t really care, and when a government thinks that it’s concerns are more important than the people they are supposed to serve it becomes dangerous to the people.

    • Rod

      I agree with both Abby and unknown .Its so hard to just live one single month without worry’s about how to get by . No luxury’s. in my house and how dare i want cable . Or a taxi ride for that matter .pay those bills and shut up .Not to mention how odsp just cut my check again by 140 a month .. Crime is starting to look like a good idea.. just to get by . As said above Have you ever felt what its like not to be able to go get a cold medicine due to the hydro must be paid first Or to want a simple bag of milk in the fridge But cant because you have no money and its only the 15th of the month ..Its mimics doing prison time at home .. How dare us on odsp or welfare expect the working to give two shits about any of us .. . Tired of waiting for this pilot project crap Just give us all the min income and stop teasing us who need it so badly. Now not in another year then talk about it again in another year . .Dam government and there head games on the poor .Even any info on the subject seems to be hidden from many of us ..Cuz how dare the poor ask whats happening to there future. . Give that money to us all .as was stated a while back ..Its for everyone not just a few selected people the stupid government thinks Oh no you cant have a better life because it should be tested first Hell do it for everyone today .Like what the hell is wrong with the government wake up before u have a full blown revolt on your hands.. !! .But no the government in ontario gotta keep there secrets from the public.. so working ontario people dont get all upset .. The basic income is for all not just us poor so why bitch (You working people) when in the end so many would benefit from a solid program .. More jobs more money to live without so many hurtles laid down by your government Bozos who just continue to talk and talk while many of us are nearing one foot in the grave … Frustrated and getting worse by the day.. .

  • Francis

    As an Ontario tax paying citizen I totally agree with this as long as everyone gets it.

  • Nancy Harper

    Again the government misses the boat. A guaranteed income must be for all. Not just for low income people. I make 35000 a year and half of my income goes to housing. Not to mention how much it costs to get to work in the GTA and the government grabs $4000 off the off the top. You will only cause hate and discord for those who will receive it. I thought this was to bolster the economy. You are really missing the point. I cannot afford to spend money in our economy, on the money that I have left after everything is paid. Life is a struggle every month and your poverty line needs some serious adjusting! Enough is enough I cannot afford to live on this single income and it seems that single working people seem to be the forgotten in this Country!!

  • Kim

    I’m on Ontario disability support program and I live in Sudbury. I am using my grocery money for my rent so If your looking for someone to volunteer I would like to very much. It’s very hard to live on $98.00 a month for food and transportation.

  • Anonnymous

    The whole point of basic income is to save administration cost and reduce incentive to not work, now they are implementing it just as any welfare, totally stupid

  • Someone with thougjts

    Towing money at a problem does not fix it. That has been proven. I have been on both sides. Worked since 14 yrs old. Currently on assistance after working for the gov’t for 22. With a mental and physical disability. Atiituade is the biggest disability. I feel I am not inn poverty. I am finding it very hard and probably poor but NOT poverty. Poverty is native reserves (however they have been given option to leave but there are huge social issues there that are bigger than this comment) and I’m Africa. I feel I am taken of. I look at things: Is this the taxpayers responsibility? We live in Canada so we take care of people so sometimes yes. But there is a point it stops. This Guaranteed Income is too much. The big problem is the cost of living. Hydro costs, food costs. Why are the CEO’ s of hydro still making so much money while our bulls are so outrageous. Physiotherapy and Osteopath should be free if people are complaining about not being able to work due to disabilities. Counselling and psychiatrists should be ongoing and free for same reason. But don people go. No. They just want to complain I can’t work give me more money. People can get better if they want to. Yes this is very complicated. Self esteem, histories, past failures, but really this is still just excuses. You might say do you think I want this? Some disabilities are exempted from this of course. While you’re still figuring out treatment etc. And it takes time But this income is not the answer.

  • Someone with thougjts

    I wrote comment above. Sorry lots of typos.

  • Kim

    Hi everyone I’ve read all of your comments hard to believe so many struggle in Ontario I’m from London I work 33 hrs a week at minimum wage after rent and food there is basically nothing left over especially for medications dental and prescription glasses like that’s a dream isn’t it, anyway I was on anot her site posted a comment almost like this one and some stupid bitch told me at 55 that I need to get a second job , I was livid, I wrote her back and told her why don’t I just get a second and third or maybe a forth job to support myself said no one ever, I think it was about people have to choose to pay hydro bill or feed there families just makes me mad that people don’t understand the struggles of low income people

  • The basic income is a great idea! For single person on O.D.S..P maximum rent is $479.00 – no such rent in Ottawa ont, for people with disabilities. Parents did not know about the special needs benefits. We need that if possible no matter what age.

  • I have a better idea. Get rid of the capitalist class by merging them into the working class and place all socially productive industries into a democratically elected administration based up where one works. That will be the government of things not of people. Those unable to work or indigent will receive the same sustenance as everyone else allocated as part of the socially produced wealth. Machines will displace working hours not people and everyone will receive the full value of what they produce. ‘Bread and circuses’? Leave it for the Romans.

  • Alicia

    From what I’ve read about this project is that it’s suppose to help those with low incomes to finally get up to or over the poverty line. Thus those that make a certain amount will not qualify as they are already over the poverty line. Sadly, all across Canada there are people who need help. From those who need just 5oo more or up to 1000 more per month to cope. I would love the extra help so I don’t have to decide where money is coming from for this or that. I disagree that eveyone should get it. Now bear with me, those that make way above the poverty line and complain about not having any money because they’ve bought an expensive new home or car or the latest phone (when the old one is still useful) but still have money in the bank to buy groceries all month long, don’t need it. I think people should still have to look for work if they are able. I’d love to have a job that paid me more than the 12000 a year (which can be taken away at any time the government says) I get now. I’m betting those that make even less than me are now saying “I wish I made that much!!” But for people like us, the poverty line is so far away. I know the program (from what I’ve read) is to top off people to reach reach the poverty line, not just to be the end thing. I know many that just need the extra to cover travel costs to go to work, That’s all they need, just that little bit more. I also know people who need a lot more because a lot of things aren’t covered by health insurance/programs. I think I can say for some… we just want to be like everyone else and buy things that are new, not second/third hand that will have to be replaced yet again because the item is so worn out within the year, give or take a month. We just want our pride back. We want to live too. Don’t need millions but scraping by shouldn’t be considered… living.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.