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Ontario to Launch North America's First Test of Universal Basic Income

"We want to find out whether a basic income makes a positive difference in people's lives"

Universal basic income, a form of social security that provides unconditional financial support from the government to all residents of a country or region, has recently gained traction as a solution to poverty, homelessness, and low quality of life. (Photo: Russell Shaw Higgs/flickr/cc)

The province of Ontario will start its pilot project testing universal basic income in three Canadian cities this summer, premier Kathleen Wynne announced on Monday.

About 4,000 residents of Hamilton, Thunder Bay, and Lindsay will be randomly selected to take part in the three-year program. One group will start receiving funds this summer—as much as $12,570 annually for individuals—while the other will be part of the control group, and not receive any money.

Researchers will track the program's impact on the economy, public health, education, and housing.

"It's not an extravagant sum by any means," Wynne said. "But our goal is clear. We want to find out whether a basic income makes a positive difference in people's lives. Whether this new approach gives them the ability to begin to achieve their potential."

Participants will be screened to ensure that they are between 18 and 64 years old and living on a low income.

"This is a new world with new challenges," Wynne said. "From technology to [President Donald] Trump, it is a time of greater uncertainty and change."

Universal basic income, a form of social security that provides unconditional financial support from the government to all residents of a country or region, has recently gained traction as a solution to poverty, homelessness, and low quality of life. Similar pilot programs are on the way around the world, from Finland to Kenya.

According to the Globe and Mail, a separate basic income plan for First Nations communities will be introduced later this year.

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