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Access Southern Ontario’s Basic Income Experience Report

The self-reported outcomes of participants help shed light on basic income’s potential as a policy instrument to alleviate poverty and raise the standard of living of individuals in today’s precarious labour market. This research study uncovered several interesting and useful findings.

Mar 04, 2020

Download the Southern Ontario’s Basic Income Experience Report (PDF)

In 2017, the Government of Ontario selected Hamilton, Brantford, and Brant County as one of the three sites to take part in a three-year basic income pilot project. During that time, selected individuals in each of the communities served by the pilot were to receive a basic income from the government and become key informants in the evaluation of the program. However, the June 2018 general election in Ontario saw a new government come to power and cancel the pilot just more than a year after it had begun. At the time, Community and Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod stated that the pilot was cancelled because it was “failing.” This report raises questions about this assessment. Besides prematurely cutting off payments to recipients in March 2019, the government also announced it would cease evaluation activities as of July 2018. As a result, the valuable insights and experiences of basic income recipients risked being abandoned and lost. The present report aims to partially fill this gap by providing an overview of the effects of basic income on the lives of recipients in the Hamilton, Brantford and Brant County. By utilizing an online survey and qualitative interviews, we sought to uncover how basic income impacted people in key areas of their lives. The self-reported outcomes of participants help shed light on basic income’s potential as a policy instrument to alleviate poverty and raise the standard of living of individuals in today’s precarious labour market. This research study uncovered several interesting and useful findings:

  • Everyone who received basic income reported benefitting in some way.
  • Many recipients reported improvements in their physical and mental health, labour market participation, food security, housing stability, financial status and social relationships.
  • Basic income also had a noticeable impact on the use of health services, with many of the survey respondents indicating less frequent visits to health practitioners and hospital emergency rooms.
  • For a significant number of participants, basic income purportedly proved to be transformational, fundamentally reshaping their living standards as well as their sense of self-worth and hope for a better future.
  • The majority of those employed before the pilot reported working while they were receiving basic income. Many reported moving to higher paying and more secure jobs.
  • Those working before the pilot reported even greater improvements on some measures of well-being than those who were not working before.

Download the full report: Southern Ontario’s Basic Income Experience (PDF)