Could Basic Income Come to Halton Soon?

Imagine if some Halton residents received a fixed amount of money every month to help them stay on their feet.

While that's not our current reality, the province is officially a year into a pilot program that has brought basic income to thousands of people across Ontario.

As people struggle with basic needs like food and housing across our city, a basic income could improve the quality of life for a lot of people in Halton. Though it might sound idealistic or radical to some, but it could reach Halton if the three-year pilot is successful.

"Through the pilot, people who earn less than the basic income amount through employment receive regular payments to help them better afford basic needs such as housing and food," reads a recent statement from the province.

"Providing a predictable amount of money each month may also allow them to start or continue to work, or further their education."

A total of 4,000 participants are enrolled in the basic income pilot in Lindsay, Hamilton Brantford and Brant County and Thunder Bay, and there's a comparison group of 2,000 participants who don't receive a basic income payment, but are part of the research study.

"A wide cross-section of people are enrolled in the pilot including single people, couples, people who were previously receiving social assistance, students, those precariously employed and unemployed," reads the release.

Here's how much the 4,000 basic income recipients are getting:

  • Up to $16,989 per year for a single person, less 50 per cent of any earned income
  • Up to $24,027 per year for a couple, less 50 per cent of any earned income
  • Up to an additional $6,000 per year for a person with a disability

Participants were chosen based on a few factors, including if they were between the ages of 18-64, and if they were living on a low income (under $34,000 per year if you're single or under $48,000 per year as a couple).

The pilot is pretty groundbreaking - it has already been recognized internationally as a finalist in the Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards.

Of course, several people are involved in spearheading the initiative.

The basic income pilot is led by Dr. Kwame McKenzie, Special Advisor to the Ontario Basic Income Pilot and CEO of the Wellesley Institute.

A Research and Evaluation Advisory Committee is monitoring the pilot for rigour and integrity. A third-party research group led by researchers, experts and academics at St. Michael’s Hospital and McMaster University will evaluate the results.

The first basic income payments were made on July 25, 2017, and payments are made on or around the 25th of each month.

So, we now know that 4,000 people are receiving a basic income not so far from home over the course of the three-year project. Whether or not we’ll see a basic income in Halton afterwards remains to be seen.

Could basic income work in Halton?

You can learn more about the basic income pilot here.

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