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The Basics On Basic Income

What is Basic Income?

  • The Basic Income program that the Province plans to pilot would replace OW and ODSP payments to guarantee low-income people in the pilot areas with a basic annual income of about $17,000 to $34,000 depending on their household size.
  • So far, the Province has suggested that additional supports and benefits received by OW and ODSP recipients would remain, such as health benefits, food allowances and access to subsidized services and housing.

Eligibility for Basic Income would be determined by an individual’s tax filings and come in the form of a top-up to 75% of the Low Income Measurement  (for example, the top up for a single individual would bring their income to $16,989). When the recipient makes above this amount throughout the year, they would need to pay some or all of it back through a special tax-back rate.
What is the Province’s plan to pilot Basic Income?

  • The Province first mentioned the idea of a Basic Income pilot in its 2016 budget. In the late fall of 2016 a discussion paper written by former Conservative Senator Hugh Segal was released outlining the framework for the pilot.
  • Based on the discussion paper, the pilot would take place for three years, either in three test communities or by randomly selected participation across the province.
  • Consultation about the design of the pilot is underway right now and ends January 31st, 2017. The Province states that it will come forward with a detailed plan for the pilot in April 2017.
  • The Province never consulted with the public or stakeholders on whether a Basic Income pilot should be conducted in the first place.

What are some concerns about Basic Income?

  • Evidence shows that people face complex and multiple barriers in poverty and money doesn’t solve all problems, but some would like to use Basic Income to replace a whole range of social programs and supports with one monthly cheque.
  • Basic Income may also be used as a substitute for better minimum wage and employment standards that provide jobs and wages people can live on.
  • If Basic Income replaces some public services and supports, it could exacerbate recent overall erosion of our public services. Those services are essential for good jobs and social cohesion.
  • The Province’s focus on Basic Income is drawing attention away from crises we face in our current income supplement programs – but also in affordable housing, childcare, and job quality, that trap people in poverty.