Hugh Segal made special advisor for Basic Income pilot in Ontario

With files from Roderick Benns

Ontario has appointed the Honourable Hugh Segal to provide advice on the design and implementation of a Basic Income Pilot in Ontario, as announced in the 2016 provincial budget.

Basic income, or guaranteed annual income, is a payment to eligible families or individuals that ensures a minimum level of income. Ontario will design and implement a pilot program to test the growing view that a basic income could help deliver income support more efficiently, while improving health, employment and housing outcomes for Ontarians.

As Special Advisor on Basic Income, Segal will draw on his expertise in Canadian and international models of basic income and consult with thought leaders to help Ontario design a pilot.

Segal has spent over 40 years in pursuit of a basic income guarantee policy for Canadians. He was chief of staff to former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in the 1990s and associate secretary of cabinet in Ontario in the 1980s.

Segal will deliver a discussion paper to the province by the fall to help inform the design and implementation of the pilot, on a pro bono basis. The discussion paper will include advice about potential criteria for selecting target populations and/or locations, delivery models and advice about how the province could evaluate the results of the Basic Income Pilot. Ontario will undertake further engagement with experts, communities and other stakeholders as it moves towards design and implementation.

In a previous interview with Leaders and Legacies, Segal noted that “if we put our heads together, we don’t have to accept a hodgepodge of programs. Welfare doesn’t support anyone — it ensnares and entangles. It creates judgement. It is deeply problematic, wasteful, and expensive.”

He says a basic income guarantee should not be about left wing or right wing politics. “Whether left or right, this idea is attractive for all. Just give the money to the people living in poverty who will know what to do with it.”

Supporting Ontarians through a Basic Income Pilot is part of the government’s economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs.

Quick Facts

  • Finland, Netherlands and Kenya are all looking at developing pilot projects that test the idea of a basic or annual guaranteed income.
  • MINCOME in 1975-78 tested the idea of a guaranteed annual income in Dauphin, Manitoba.