No plans to scrap basic income pilot after election, Thunder Bay-area candidates say

Candidates in a Thunder Bay, Ont., area riding say the ongoing basic income pilot project will continue, should any of their parties form the next provincial government.
Candidates in a Thunder Bay-area riding all expressed interest in seeing the basic income pilot project continue. (Matt Prokopchuk / CBC)

Candidates in a Thunder Bay, Ont., area riding say the ongoing basic income pilot project will continue, should any of their parties form the next provincial government.

The three-year pilot was announced in spring 2017. After a slow start to enrolments, provincial officials said they were finally able to fill the roughly 4,000 spots in the initiative. Those participants will receive a basic income for the duration of the pilot, which will measure the effect the guaranteed income has on the lives of people living on low incomes.

Another 2,000 won't receive that money, but will be compensated for completing a number of surveys from which information will be used for research purposes. The pilot is underway in Thunder Bay, the Hamilton area and Lindsay.

"Our commitment was to a three-year pilot ... if we have the privilege of forming government again, there will be no change," Thunder Bay-Atikokan Liberal candidate Bill Mauro said.

"Our commitment on that is clear but different governments make different choices."

It doesn't appear that the other parties' stance on the pilot differs all that much.

"I think it's crucial that we have the pilot in the northwest," said Judith Monteith-Farrell, the NDP candidate in the south-side Thunder Bay riding. "We see poverty as an issue, we see it on our streets and we need ways to address it."

The pilot is a good way of assessing whether a basic income will be part of a comprehensive plan to do that, she said.

CBC News requested an interview with PC candidate Brandon Postuma, but instead received a written statement attributed to him saying "the basic income program is currently in a pilot stage, and we look forward to seeing the results."