The 4 key ways basic income changed people’s work lives for the better

Roderick Benns

While the federal government may be considering the merits of a basic income for Canadians, those participating in the Ontario pilot know already how it was changing their lives for the better.

In fact, there were four key ways basic income directly affected people’s work lives, according to survey information – more learning and education; affordability of transportation; starting or maintaining a business; and childcare.

  • More than 32 per cent of respondents to a survey about the Ontario Basis Income Pilot were going back to school to further their education.
  • More than 20 per cent could finally afford transportation to get to and from work.
  • Nearly nine per cent started or expanded their own business.
  • Close to six per cent could afford some child care expenses to be able to work.

Melanie says “it changed my life, I was able to pay rent and child care much easier.”

Peter notes he is “…now sober and changing my life for the better…it helped me afford to live…pay rent, afford food…(had) money to get around…even got my license for first time because of this (basic income) pilot thing…no work in this city for my field so without this I will be homeless again.”

Francine says “even with a low employment income, I became more committed to my job serving a vulnerable population because I knew the basic income supplement would allow me to pay all of my bills and eat well.”

Derek says he was “able to search for a good apprenticeship without settling for something less professional.”

Cathy points out she could “afford transportation to work.”

Roy says he “could afford a proper home for our newborn baby and be able to provide for her while working a 50 hour-a-week full time job.”

Heather says basic income “allowed me to start planning for the exhibition of my artwork.”

Joanne notes she was “able to move to a city where I could find better work opportunities and get married.”

Tim says he was “less stressed, (which) caused better work performance and I got a promotion.”

More than 1,500 of the 4,500 basic income pilot recipients agreed to help the Basic Income Canada Network and the Ontario Basic Income Network continue working for a basic income policy.

BICN conducted a survey of those people. Now, 424 responses have come back, representing more than nine per cent of those receiving basic income in Ontario. The Lindsay Advocate is pleased to be the media partner highlighting these stories. Names have been changed to protect identities.

The Ontario Basic Income Pilot was initiated by the Province in 2017 in three areas – Hamilton region, Thunder Bay area, and Lindsay. Four thousand people were involved, with nearly 2,000 of them in Lindsay to see if there would be a community-wide effect, given the smaller population (20,000 people) of the Kawartha Lakes centre. It was set to run for three years. When the PC government was elected in the summer of 2018, it cancelled the program despite a campaign promise to allow it to continue, announcing that payments will only run until March of 2019.