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The province's experiment with a basic income can have long-term benefits for families.

"If you don't have enough money, it's very hard to pay the rent. If you don't pay the rent, you end up in trouble with your landlord. If you wind up with more evictions, it means your kids are moving more. If you're choosing between rent and food, sometimes your kids are going hungry," said Sallie Hunt of the Northwest Legal Clinic.

In Ontario, the pilot project is being offered in Thunder Bay, Brantford, Brant County and Hamilton. Selected families in these communities can have their monthly income topped up to $1,400 Hunt says, noting the experiment has been tried before.

According to the pilot project criteria, anyone who receives a package in the mail (or another person living in their household) can apply if:

  • they are 18 to 64 years old
  • living in one of the selected test regions for the past 12 months or longer (and still live there)
  • living on a low income (under $34,000 per year if you're single or under $48,000 per year if you’re a couple)

Following a tax credit model, the Ontario Basic Income Pilot will ensure that participants receive up to:

  • $16,989 per year for a single person, less 50 per cent of any earned income
  • $24,027 per year for a couple, less 50 per cent of any earned income

People with a disability will also receive up to $500 per month on top. The payments are based on 75 per cent of the low-income amount.

The Old Age Security Supplement was brought in to avoid having seniors living in abject poverty, Hunt continued. At the time, wives who had no savings of their own could be left in dire straits, if their husband passed away.

The basic income project is also a reprisal of a social experiment run in Dauphin, Man., in the 1970s.

For more information:

Basic Income Pilot Project

Social assistance boosted

NWHU supports $15 minimum wage

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