Basic income project applications being mailed out in Ontario

Residents in and around Thunder Bay and Hamilton, Ont., have started to receive packages from the provincial government soliciting people to sign up for the basic income pilot project.

Province randomly selecting households to take part, be involved in initial research

Ontario has begun to send out applications for its basic income pilot project. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)

Residents in and around Thunder Bay and Hamilton, Ont., have started to receive packages from the provincial government soliciting people to sign up for the basic income pilot project.

The three-year pilot was announced in April and will be tested in the Thunder Bay, Hamilton and Lindsay areas. It will explore the effectiveness of providing a basic income — no matter what — to people who are currently living on low incomes. It's expected to cost $50 million per-year.

"We have recently begun mailing letters and application packages to randomly selected individuals in the Thunder Bay region," Daniel Schultz, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Community and Social Services, said in an email to CBC News.

In the northwest, the program is being tested in the City of Thunder Bay and the neighbouring rural municipalities of Oliver-Paipoonge, Shuniah, Neebing, Conmee, O'Connor and Gillies.

Packages have also been mailed to people in Hamilton, Brantford and Brant County, Schultz said. The pilot is scheduled to roll out in Lindsay in the fall. The program is expected to study 4,000 households.

A fact sheet mailed along with the application package in Thunder Bay states people may be eligible to take part in the program if they are 18 to 64 years old, have lived in the Thunder Bay area for the past 12 months and meet one of a number of income thresholds in 2016, including:

  • earning less than $33,978 if single
  • earning less than $48,054 if a couple
  • earning less than $45,978 if single with a disability
  • earning less than $60,054 if one person in a couple has a disability
  • earning less than $72,054 if both people in a couple have a disability
When the program was announced, the province said a single person could receive up to about $17,000 a year, minus half of any income he or she earns. A couple could receive up to $24,000 per year. People with disabilities could receive up to $6,000 more per year.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the basic income program in April, 2017. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

"We have chosen these communities intentionally because they are the right size and they have the right mix of population," Premier Kathleen Wynne said at the April announcement in Hamilton.

People who receive an application package can review their eligibility and will have about three-to-four weeks to sign up if they're interested in taking part. Participation will require households to participate in subsequent research, including taking part in a survey.

The government said it will notify those who've been chosen for the next stage of the application process.

An information meeting about the pilot was held in Hamilton on Monday, Schultz said, with forums still being planned in Thunder Bay and Brantford.