At Simcoe County Circles, we believe that no one should live in poverty. If given the right tools and support, economic stability can be achieved by just about anyone. Is Basic Income the answer to reducing or eliminating poverty in our communities? Let’s explore this concept in our latest blog by examining the recent Ontario Basic Income Pilot project.
What is Basic Income?
Basic Income is defined as “is a payment to eligible couples or individuals that ensures a minimum income level, regardless of employment status”. Basic income differs from social assistance because it is given to anyone who meets the income eligibility criterion, including those who may be working but earning below the basic income level.
The now-finished project was aimed at individuals aged 18-64 who earned less than $34000 per year, $48000 per year for a couple. The pilot project ensured that individual participants received up to $16,989 per year, $24,027 per year for a couple. The basic income amount was decreased by $0.50 for every dollar earned through work. Participants who received Employment Insurance or Canada Pension Plan payments had their monthly basic income payments reduced dollar for dollar. Those with a disability received an additional $500 per month. Seniors (65+) were not included in the pilot group as most seniors receive more income through their current benefits and payments.
Areas of Concern
The Ontario Basic Income Pilot project was designed to test how a basic income might help low-income individuals and families better meet their basic needs while improving the following:
- food security
- stress and anxiety
- mental health
- health and healthcare usage
- housing stability
- education and training
- employment and labour market participation
Participants in the pilot program reported that the Basic Income funds helped them to find and keep jobs, start businesses, pursue education and training, and improve the health and well-being of themselves and family members. More than half of the participants make improvements to their housing situation, while nearly a third went back to school or skills training to improve their employment options. The impact on mental wellbeing was substantial, with 88% of those surveyed saying that they were less stressed and anxious, with 73% reporting less depression.
All in all, the Ontario Basic Income Pilot project appeared to have made real and impactful changes to people and families who were ready and willing to make a difference in their lives.
Although Simcoe County Circles does not provide financial assistance, we can help you with the skills and connections you need to leave poverty behind once and for all. Find out more about our programs by visiting www.simcoecountycircles.com or by calling 705-549-1890.