Monday marked the unveiling of the Ontario government’s new basic income pilot project, set to affect thousands of residents in three of the province’s cities.
The project will give randomly selected low-earning residents in Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Lindsay an annual income of almost $17,000 whether they are working or not.
And across the country, groups like Basic Income Vancouver here in B.C. are supporting the idea.
Group founder Nick Taylor spoke to Steele & Drex on Monday about what the announcement could mean for basic income advocates across the country.
First and foremost, Taylor gave an outline of what his group believes an ideal basic income should be.
“Basic income boils down to the idea that you make a payment that’s individual, universal and unconditional.”
“Unconditional” being the keyword.
“It’s very hard to say no to free money, but there are challenges and conditions that come along with that.”
Some of those challenges include a vocal opposition – some claim that a basic income would lead to an unmotivated populous, with people willingly going unemployed.
Taylor rebutted this notion by pointing at a series of studies done in Canada and the United States.
“What they showed is the opposite of what people think. They showed that there was very little disengagement with work. Give people some money, and they start making decisions.”
He says those decisions include learning job-applicable skills and seeking creative fulfillment.
Taylor went on to say that in the coming years, seriously discussing implementing a basic income will become increasingly necessary.
As automation and job loss becomes a growing concern, he says the implementation of a working income system should be a priority.
“The big challenge is not so much job replacement, it’s the fact that jobs don’t just get replaced and disappear and we have nothing to do, they get replaced by jobs that pay less and are more insecure.”
When it comes to whether that money would be used wisely, Taylor says it’s a matter of trust.
“You have to trust that they know what their needs are better than I do or you do or anyone else does.”
Whether that trust is misplaced could become clearer as the program is implemented later this year.