Hamilton consultation: Province seeks input for basic income pilot

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By Rosie-Ann Grover

Ontario is looking for public input Tuesday for a basic income pilot geared to boosting support for low-income residents — even if they are on social assistance.

“It’s an interesting idea,” says Helena Jaczek, Minister of Community and Social Services. “It’s the security of knowing you have a certain amount. You don’t have to work for it, or prove that you need it.”

Different than social assistance, she says, a basic income can be given to anyone who meets the income eligibility criterion.

It’s meant to be easier to administer and is an unconditional payment that doesn’t require the person receiving it to find work or prove they’re trying to find a job.

Here’s how Jaczek explains it: Let’s say the basic income level is established as $15,000 a year. If you made $12,000, the program would supplement that income with an additional $3,000.

But there’s one glaring obstacle.

“We don’t know what our basic income level is,” Jaczek says — which is a red flag for Hamilton poverty advocates.

“In the wrong hands, basic income may not assist the most vulnerable in our community,” says Deirdre Pike, senior social planner at the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton.

“It has to be evidence-based.”

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Article and image source: The Hamilton Spectator

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