The coronavirus pandemic demonstrates the wisdom of a universal basic income

Hamilton News

What a difference a year makes.

Last March, Ontario’s basic income pilot project was cancelled, leaving about 4,000 Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Lindsay residents scrambling to recoup a monthly financial stipend they said had transformed their lives.

Under the program, individuals would receive about $13,000 per year, while couples got about $19,000 regardless of employment status. Individuals receiving the financial help said knowing they would have a sustainable and secure source of money immediately bolstered their health, improved their self-esteem and allowed them to look for a job or establish a path to carve out a career.

The idea of creating a basic income had been generating steam over the last few years with individuals, such as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and former U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders backing the idea of a universal basic income.

Manitoba’s own Mincome pilot project from the 1970s revealed giving people a basic income meant they could focus on education to better themselves.

Then candidate Doug Ford had supported continuing the three-year pilot project, but when he assumed office, one of his government’s first moves was to axe the program, arguing it was too costly at $115 million. Instead, the Ford government stated it would “focus resources on more proven approaches.”

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