What Kitchener said about Ontario's basic income pilot project

The Ontario government is taking the next steps with a basic income pilot project after it released a report that summarizes all the feedback they received on how to design and deliver the pilot project on Friday.

The province visited 14 different communities from November to January to gain public feedback

Manitoba's minimum wage will increase by 30 cents on Oct. 1. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

The Ontario government is moving forward with a basic income pilot project after it released a report that summarizes all the feedback from the public on how to design and deliver the pilot project.

The province is looking to create a pilot that would test how basic income might benefit people living in low income situations, including those who are working.

From November 2016 to the end of January, the province visited 14 different communities, including Kitchener, where 1,200 people shared their ideas on the pilot project. Those suggestions included who should eligible, which communities to include, how it should be delivered and how the pilot should be evaluated during consultations.

"When the ministry came to Kitchener, the minister, Chris Ballard who is responsible for poverty reduction, I think he was impressed and overwhelmed by what he saw and what he heard," Kitchener Centre MPP Daiene Vernile told CBC K-W's The Morning Edition on Monday.

More than 34,000 people also filled out an online survey and written submissions from 80 community organizations with experience in fighting poverty were also sent to the province. 

What Kitchener had to say

When Kitchener held their public consultation on January 13, about 145 people came to share their ideas in small group discussions on five main areas relating to the pilot.  

Overall, the community felt those eligible should be people experiencing low income who are in need, not just those on social assistance, the report found.

The community felt the project's location should be representative of the province, to include communities with various population sizes, Indigenous communities and communities with multiple ethnicities as well.

The basic income pilot project should be delivered efficiently and needs be high enough for people to meet their needs, but how much the individual should received was debated.

The community also felt the project should be studied and for the province to keep track of those who use it.

How it would work

The goal of the project is to guarantee people a monthly payment to lift them out of poverty, with long term improvements to their health, employment and housing, Vernile said.

"It's an unconditional payment to a person or a family, no strings attached," she said. "They would get a payment once a month and the idea is that this would help them deal with life's needs."

However, it's still being worked out whether the basic income should be an added element to additional social assistance like Ontario Works or if it should replace them.

Vernile said a decision should be made in the spring as the province is looking to implementing the pilot project in three different communities, one in northern Ontario, a second in southern Ontario and a third one in an Indigenous community.