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  • News
  • April 24, 2017

Giving More People an Opportunity to Get Ahead and Stay Ahead

Ontario Basic Income Pilot to Launch in Thunder Bay, Hamilton and Lindsay

Ontario is launching a pilot project to assess whether a basic income can better support vulnerable workers, improve health and education outcomes for people on low incomes, and help ensure that everyone shares in Ontario’s economic growth. 

The three-year study will test how a basic income might expand opportunities and job prospects of those living on low incomes, while providing greater security for them and their families.

Ontario’s economy is in a relatively strong position, however many people in the province are not feeling that growth in their everyday lives. People are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living and facing “precarious employment” with little job security or benefits. This pilot will study whether a basic income can bridge that gap and give people the security and opportunity they need to achieve their potential.

Three regions will take part in the study. Pilots will start in late spring in Hamilton, including Brantford and Brant County; and in Thunder Bay and the surrounding area. The third pilot will start by this fall in Lindsay.

The Basic Income model Ontario has developed will ensure that eligible participants receive:

  • Up to $16,989 per year for a single person, less 50 per cent of any earned income
  • Up to $24,027 per year for a couple, less 50 per cent of any earned income
  • Up to an additional $6,000 per year for a person with a disability.

A basic income supports people to begin or continue working, or to further their education. Participants in the pilot will be able to increase their total income by combining a basic income with 50 cents from every dollar they earn at work.

Through this pilot, people who earn less than the basic income amount through employment will receive regular payments to help them better afford basic needs such as housing and food. The three test regions will host 4,000 participants eligible to receive a basic income payment, between the ages of 18 to 64. By late spring, people in these areas will begin receiving information about the pilot and how to participate. The province is partnering with these communities and other experts make sure that the Ontario Basic Income Pilot is fair, effective, and scientifically valid. 

Ontario is also in the early stages of planning a separate, parallel First Nations Basic Income Pilot, co-created and designed with First Nations partners.

Our approach to basic income is a simplified way to deliver income support that provides a floor under which nobody can fall, regardless of their circumstances. The design was based on advice received from Special Advisor on Basic Income, Hugh Segal, who delivered his report in November. It was also informed by the thousands of people and organizations we heard from during our province-wide consultations.


“Ontario is taking the lead in testing basic income through a pilot that will gather evidence on this approach from a made-in-Ontario point of view. I know our constituents in Ottawa-Vanier riding will be interested in learning more about this approach and whether it could be a simple way to tackle poverty and help people living on low incomes.”

— MPP Nathalie Des Rosiers, Ottawa-Vanier

“The Ontario Basic Income Pilot will be testing a new approach to income support in a careful, step-by-step way to ensure we get it right. We are starting small, and using the lessons learned as we build the pilot out in further phases. Our goal is to better understand whether this approach could help people living on low incomes in their everyday lives.”

— Dr. Helena Jaczek, Minister of Community and Social Services

“Every person struggling in poverty is a person denied the ability to reach for a better life. The Basic Income Pilot will help us test ways to make everyday life easier for Ontarians by removing barriers that still stand in the way of improved health, employment and housing for too many among us. Testing a Basic Income is just one way we’re working to ensure that every family has the dignity and security of a life free from poverty.”

— Chris Ballard, Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy


  • Ontario is one of a number of places, including Finland, Kenya and the Netherlands, that have launched or are considering a basic income program.
  • People eligible for the Ontario Basic Income Pilot will be randomly chosen to receive the basic income or to be part of a control group who don’t receive it.
  • People receiving support through Ontario Works who enter the pilot will continue to receive the Ontario Drug Benefit, and people on the Ontario Disability Support Program will continue to receive the Ontario Drug Benefit and dental benefits.
  • A single person earning $10,000 per year from a part-time job would receive an additional $11,989 in basic income ($16,989 less 50% of their earned income), for a total income of $21,989. 
  • A third-party research consortium that will evaluate the study will be announced shortly. The province will also form an advisory group with research and evaluation experts to ensure that the pilot is conducted with the utmost integrity, rigour and ethical standards.


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