Basic income already proven to work

By Robert Washburn

Northumberland Today

Guaranteeing a basic income to Ontarians living below the poverty line appears to be an idea whose time has come.

And, while it may seem obvious who is going to benefit from this plan, it is not.

Starting in April 2017, a basic income program pilot project will be introduced at a cost of $25 million. The province is waiting for a report from Senator Hugh Segal regarding the implementation. It was supposed to be released in August, but was delayed.

When the Liberals announced their plan to provide a supplement to those living below the poverty line in their spring budget, it was met with the usual cries of anguish. Critics immediately pounced upon the old arguments, saying it would promote laziness and be too expensive.

But Public Health Nurse Kristina Nairn, with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge Public Health Unit, said in a recent interview the critics are misguided. In fact, basic income programs work, she said.

The stereotypes are wrong.

Of the all the people living below the poverty line, 70 per cent have a job. The problem lies in their ability to make sufficient money to live properly – pay rent, buy food and pay bills, along with other basic needs.

The Hunger Report 2015 reports 10 per cent of those using the service have a job but come in at the end of a month to get a few groceries to tie them over because the cost of living. No doubt it is close to this locally.

Despite urban myths, basic income has already proven to work.

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