By Ron Hikel and Rob Rainer - Huffington Post
On June 7, Ontarians will elect a new legislature at Queen's Park. Recent pollingsuggests that the Progressive Conservatives could receive 44 per cent of the vote, the Liberals 26 per cent, the NDP 23 per cent, and other parties combined seven per cent. If so, the PCs would form a government and the Liberals would be the Official Opposition — swapping their current positions.
However, stark party policy differences suggest the Ontario election could yet be up for grabs. In the balance, among other things, is whether the Ontario Basic Income Pilot Project survives a potential change in government. With the PCs likely to run on a "save taxpayer money" message, with the pilot costing $50 million a year, and with the misguided notion that it is but a "crazy experiment" in "paying some people tens of thousands of dollars not to work," the pilot may be at notable risk should the PCs prevail at the polls.
Killing the pilot, however, would be a mistake. Launched in the spring of 2017, with majority public support, the pilot is meant to rigorously assess how basic income impacts nutrition, health, education, employment and more for up to 4.000 people who receive basic income over a three-year period, and to compare the outcomes against those of current programs (e.g., social assistance).
Early anecdotal impact reports are promising. For example, basic income is making it possible for some participants to eat better, find more stable housing and purchase medical supplies that were previously out of reach. Greater independence, the opening of opportunity and even being able to celebrate life are among the benefits that some participants are voicing.
This is hardly surprising, as the evidence supporting basic income is already strong — for example, from four U.S. tests in the 1970s and the 1974-1978 Manitoba Mincome experiment. Though similar in some respects to its U.S. counterparts, Mincome had one major and unique innovation. Every adult resident of the town of Dauphin was eligible to apply for basic income and could receive payments, but only if their other income by family size was below a designated amount. This meant the entire town was free from the negative psychological effects of potential financial insecurity.
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