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A Canadian Province Is Going to Give 4,000 Households Free Money

The government of Ontario is now providing some residents with monthly deposits as part of a new basic income pilot project.

The experiment will allow individuals to receive a small income from the government without requirements that traditional government assistance programs have. The province will follow the pilot to see the effects of providing income to people who might need it.

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.

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Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the three-year experiment in April, and although the province mailed out applications randomly back in June, they only heard back from a handful of people, according to CBC.

Officials are now offering in-person sessions to gather potential participants and help them apply to the pilot program or see if they might qualify to receive basic income from the government.

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 yielded good results back in the 1970s — improvements in health, school enrollment, and work-life balance.

Read More: Racial, Gender, Wealth Inequality — Can a Universal Basic Income End Them All?

Currently, the basic income pilot project in Ontario is allotting monthly deposits to 800 people, but it will eventually provide for 4,000 households in Ontario.

"We need to address the concerns of those who worry about falling behind, even as they work so hard to get ahead," Wynne told CBC back in April.

Participants, like 46-year-old Dave Cherkewski, said that the extra income has helped him deal with mental illness issues that have plagued him since 2002. He receives CAD $750 per month.

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“With basic income I will be able to clarify my dream and actually make it a reality, because I can focus all my effort on that and not worry about, 'Well, I need to pay my $520 rent, I need to pay my $50 cellphone, I need to eat and do other things’,” he told the Independent.

Cherkewski wants to find work helping others who have challenges associated to mental illness.

This project will cost $50 million a year for three years. The simplest idea behind UBI is to use it as a means to help reduce poverty, something especially important as more jobs become eliminated due to automation.

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