Months after Ontario’s basic income pilot program came into effect, recipients are reporting positive results in their day-to-day lives when it comes to health and housing.

Launched in the Hamilton and Thunder Bay regions last summer, the basic income project is a three-year pilot that provides some residents with monthly deposits. It launched in Lindsay this fall as well, according to the Toronto Star.

The experiment allows individuals to receive a small income from the government without requirements that traditional government assistance programs normally enforce, like Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program. The province will follow the pilot to see the effects of providing income like this to people who seem to need it.

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An individual who qualifies for the benefit could receive up to about $17,000 a year, minus half of what they make if they are working. A couple could receive up to $24,000 and people with disabilities could get up to $6,000 more, according to CBC.

The project is part of a global trend in governments experimenting with a “universal basic income” or UBI. Cities in Italy and the Netherlands implemented UBI trials last year and Finland has rolled out a UBI program too.

A basic income project in Manitoba saw good results back in the 1970s. Now, Ontario may be following its lead.  

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Recipients are now able to afford essentials like food and shelter that were once out of reach, according to the Toronto Star.

Margie Goold was able to buy herself a new walker, Lance Dingman can afford groceries for the month and Wendy Moore now feels confident in looking for an apartment, the Toronto Star reports.

Moore was living with $330 per month from Ontario Works, a provincial welfare program. Because she was homeless, she was not able to apply for their shelter allowance, according to the Toronto Star.

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With the new basic income project, Moore receives $1,416 each month.

“It is giving me back my independence,” she told the Toronto Star. “I don’t feel so backed into a corner. If I want to eat, I can afford to buy something instead of going to a food bank or a soup kitchen.”

Currently, there are almost 3,000 people enrolled in Ontario, according to the Toronto Star.

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Ontario’s Basic Income Project Is Improving Health for Recipients

By Jackie Marchildon