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Ontario pilot project gives residents basic income

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A pilot project in Ontario could have big implications for the social welfare system. Three cities, including Hamilton, will begin an experiment providing a basic income for low-income residents.

The details of the $50 million project were announced by Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne during a speech in Hamilton.

The three-year pilot is aimed at people living on low incomes, whether they have jobs or are on welfare. Each year, people who take part in the pilot project will receive a minimum amount of income.
    
That means single people will get a minimum payment of just under $17,000 a year and couples will get just over $24,000. In addition, people with disabilities will get an additional $6,000 a year.
    
Wynne says the experimental basic income is not an extravagant amount of money.

"For a single person, we're talking about just under $17,000 a year. But even that amount may make a real difference to someone who's striving to reach a better life. It says to them, government is with you. The people of Ontario are with you.  We're here to help through the hard times as you get back on your feet," Wynne said.

To qualify, a single person would have to make less than $34,000 a year, couples less than $48,000.

Wynne says technology and automation have changed the nature of work. International estimates by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development estimates that nine percent of the jobs in Canada are at risk. Some think-tanks put the number as high as 40 percent.

Wynne says a lot of research went in to the project and the work done in Ontario will be valuable in other parts of Canada and around the world.

WBFO’s comprehensive news coverage extends into Southern Ontario and Dan Karpenchuk is the station’s voice from the north. The award-winning reporter covers binational issues, including economic trends, the environment, tourism and transportation.