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Basic income payments to start this month

More than 400 people in test cities across Ontario, including Thunder Bay, will receive a basic income payment this month.
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People selected to participate in a basic income pilot can expect to start receiving payments this month.

The Ontario government announced 400 people in Hamilton, Brantford, and Thunder Bay and surrounding area will be receiving a basic income in October.

The Ontario Basic Income Pilot was first announced in April, 2017, providing eligible participants up to $16,989 per year for a single person and up to $24,027 per year for a couple, less 50 per cent of any earned income. Individuals living with a disability will receive an additional $6,000 per year.

The pilot will take place over three years and 4,000 participants will take part. Premier Kathleen Wynne said during the announcement last spring that the program is meant to provide people living on a low income with more opportunities and security.

“One income used to be enough for most families,” Wynne said during the announcement in April. “And now, even with two people working, it’s tough to save, it’s tough to feel like you are getting ahead, and it’s tough to feel confident that your job will still be yours or still be around in five years or 10 years, or even less.”

Packages inviting participants into the pilot project were sent to more than 1,000 Thunder Bay residents in June. The pilot is open to people between the ages of 18 and 64 years, and who earn less than $34,000 for a single person or $48,000 for a couple.

Of the participants, some will not receive any payments and will be part of a control group to determine the outcomes of people receiving payments to those who do not.

The Ontario government is also working on engaging First Nations on a separate First Nations Basic Income Pilot.

Applications for the basic income pilot are still being processed in all three original locations, with the program launching in Lindsay, Ont. next week.

“We are starting small, a three-year project in these selected communities to start, 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 and whether it is an approach that can be adopted across our province as a whole,” Wynne said in April.