Segal says Feds should partner with Ontario on Basic Income as ‘nation-building’ opportunity

By Roderick Benns

With Canada’s 150th birthday year less than two months away, Hugh Segal is calling for the federal government to get involved in Ontario’s pilot project on Basic Income as a nation-building opportunity.

Retired Conservative Senator Hugh Segal’s long awaited report on a guaranteed annual income was released last week, which will see Canada’s largest province set up a multi-year pilot to measure its effectiveness.

In the report to Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government, Segal recommends a monthly payment of at least $1,320 for a single person which is about 75 percent of the province’s poverty line. For those with disabilities, Segal suggests a top-up of at least $500 a month.

The retired senator notes that while the federal government’s involvement is “not specifically within the remit of an Ontario pilot, it is nevertheless recommended that the federal government consider partnering with any willing province on any Basic Income pilots now being considered or contemplated.”

Segal writes that “a government in Ottawa that is committed to poverty reduction could see a meaningful nation-building opportunity in moving forward with a Basic Income project for the country as a whole.”

The pilot does indeed have worldwide ramifications, given Ontario’s sheer size, both in area and in population. The province is more than one million square kilometres — an area larger than France and Spain combined and it is the largest province by population in Canada, with more than 13.5 million people. This single province generates 37 percent of the national GDP of Canada.

Segal’s recommendation to the government would include strong work incentives built into the Basic Income pilot’s design. He told CBC’s Carol Off that in his vision for the program, “people would be able to go out and earn as much as they like and the normal tax rates of 20 percent or 30 percent would apply.”

“Once they reach an amount where they’re earning as much every month as they’re getting from the actual basic grant, then they would be taxed like the rest of us who earn enough to live without any assistance,” he tells Off.

To read Segal’s full report, click here.