Canadian province to give every citizen $1,320 income boost to overcome poverty

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One in five children live in poverty in Canada, according to Unicef, and a recent poll found two-thirds of Canadians open to the idea of basic income


A Canadian province is to run a pilot project aimed at providing every citizen a minimum basic income of $1,320 (£773) a month.

The provincial government of Ontario confirmed it is holding public consultations on the $25m (£15m) project over the next two months, which could replace social assistance payments administered by the province for people aged 18 to 65.

People with disabilities will receive $500 (£292) more under the scheme, and individuals who earn less than $22,000 (£13,000) a year after tax will have their incomes topped up to reach that threshold.

The pilot report was submitted by Conservative ex-senator Hugh Segal, who suggested the project should be tested on three distinct sites: in the north, south and among the indigenous community of Ontario.

Areas with high levels of poverty and food insecurity should be chosen for the test project, Mr Segal recommended.

“It is in fact the precinct of rational people when looking to encourage work and community engagement and give people a floor beneath which they’re not allowed to fall,” he said.

“We can do this for seniors without having to add any more bureaucrats or civil servants, we respect their freedom to choose, we give them the money, they decide what’s important. Why would we treat other poor people differently?

“What Ontario is doing is saying let’s have a pilot project, let’s calculate the costs, let’s calculate the positive and the nudge effects behaviourally.”

Mr Segal confirmed that participation in the project, which is due to launch in spring 2017, will be voluntary and promised “no one would be financially worse off as a result of the pilot”.

One in five children live in poverty in Canada, according to Unicef, and a recent poll of some 1,500 Canadians found two-thirds of those polled were open to the idea of basic income.

A similar project was tested in Dauphin, Manitoba, between 1974 and 1979, with families below the poverty line receiving over $3,000 (£1,757) a month. Over 1,000 citizens were said to have benefited from the scheme.

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