Province fields basic income questions in Hamilton, Ontario

Hamilton Spectator

Ursula Samuels wants to know that basic income will help Hamiltonians on social assistance get ahead.

The 60-year-old mother who attended an information session at the Hamilton Central Library said she receives Ontario Works, and between juggling rent, food and other responsibilities, "it's a struggle every month to get by."

"What I want to see is that people would be better off," she added.

Karen Glass, assistant deputy minister at the Poverty Reduction Strategy Office, spoke about the province's three-year basic income pilot and fielded questions from the crowd of more than 75 people Monday night.

She explained that people on social assistance would have to forego their Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program payments to become part of the basic income study, but they would keep their health and dental benefits.

She stressed the three-year pilot launched by the province to study the impact of basic income is not just for people receiving social assistance, but also for people with low-income jobs.

The goal is to reduce people's "economic anxiety," Glass said, noting the study will measure outcomes like food security and stress.

Hamilton, Brantford and the County of Brant make up one of three pilot locations, with the other two sites in Lindsay and Thunder Bay.

Locally, 1,000 people will receive a basic income and another 1,000 will be part of a control group to study the impact. Those in the control group will not receive the basic income but will get paid to fill out surveys.

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