Canada Will Start Testing Universal Basic Income

It’s happening, it’s all happening.


Last year, Billfold Canadian Meghan Nesmith alerted us to yet another ver good reason to move to Canada: a pilot program to test Universal Basic Income in Ontario. A year and change later, it seems that this is actually happening, proving that there is some good left in this world after all.

Universal Basic Income: Yet Another Reason to Move to Canada?

The pilot program is reportedly set to roll out as soon as this summer and the money will be distributed to a random selection of 4,000 low income citizens wtih $17,000 per year going to single people and $24,000 to couples.

Canadian province to launch North America’s first major universal basic income test in 30 years

The last time the theory was put to the test in North America was a program in the Canadian province of Manitoba in the late 1970s.

Data from that study went unpublished after a new administration took power and shut it down. Luckily, researchers were able to determine decades later that the policy had a positive effect on key quality-of-life metrics like hospitalizations, mental health cases and school retention.

Implementing a universal basic income test on this scale has never really happened in the United States by any governing body — unless you count the disruptors of Silicon Valley and Y Combinator, who did something “nice” enough, depending on your definition of the word, and annonced a Universal Basic Income program in the city of Oakland, California, in an attempt to “mitigate poverty” in June 2016.

To mitigate poverty, Y Combinator set to launch minimum income plan

…that means spending about $1.5 million over the course of a year to study the distribution of “$1,500 or $2,000” per month to “30 to 50” people. There will also be a similar-sized control group that gets nothing. The project is set to start before the end of 2016.

The money in this case is coming from Y Combinator and not the government, and is therefore an act of private philanthropy. A brief Google search leads me to believe that this project hasn’t actually happened yet. I’m sure we’ll see a rash of Takes when it actually does and hopefully the people behind it will find ways to mitigate concerns other than poverty like the logistics of the entire operation and grappling with the fact that this might be seen as a way for Silicon Valley fat cats to feel better about speeding up gentrification by raising rent prices and turning Oakland and the surrounding environs into an extension of San Francisco.

Anyway! Canadas test of the UBI feels much more legit, as it’s being rolled out by the government and not a group of concerned citizens who have good enough intentions. Is this a good thing? Is this bad? Now that Canada’s actually walking the walk, how do you think it’ll shake out?

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