A New Initiative In Canada Trials Universal Basic Income
The policy will provide an unconditional salary for citizens living below the poverty line
The Canadian province of Ontario will be testing universal basic income in 2017, making it the first government in North America in decades to test the policy that many feel is a panacea to growing levels of income inequality. The province’s most impoverished residents will be given a guaranteed minimum income with the hopes of raising their quality of life and saving the government money.
Longtime advocate of basic income, conservative political strategist Hugh Segal was tasked with exploring directions for the C$25m pilot project. Segal’s interest in the idea started in the mid-1970s when a basic income policy for seniors was created in Ontario. The result? Poverty rates among seniors in Ontario went down from the low 30s to 5 percent, which created a positive ripple effect. Lifespan, food security and independence from long-term care all went up. With this in mind, Segal began to ask: if a program like this worked for the senior population, why wouldn’t it work for a large demographic?