Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have free money? Because it turns out you might be getting some in the coming years.
Ontario’s government has launched a pilot project to test the concept of basic income–a standard income paid to everyone whether they are working or not. Which means, if the pilot proves successful, you could be getting paycheques in the mail for doing nothing at all.
Of course, the money isn’t actually free. It comes out of your tax dollars, but you get the idea.
While paying someone a salary for nothing might sound like a strange idea, Ontario certainly isn’t the only place considering it. Germany and Finland have launched their own versions of a basic income pilot project, while Switzerland is about to vote on a referendum over whether or not to give out a basic salary of $2,500 a month.
The Ministry of Community and Social Services is still pretty tight-lipped about how the program might look in Ontario if rolled out because the pilot program is still in its early stages, but according to basicincome.org, a basic income is an income paid “irrespective of any income from other sources”. Meaning, in theory, it is supposed to be paid to everyone, rich or poor, employed or unemployed.
As for the benefits, well, you’d get a raise. It could also virtually eliminate poverty, or relieve people of financial burdens as they pursue a career or academic prospect. Of course, that’s all speculation.
“The pilot project will test a growing view at home and abroad that a basic income could build on the success of minimum wage policies and increases in child benefits by providing more consistent and predictable support in the context of today’s dynamic labor market,” Ontario’s 2016 budget documents state.
There’s definitely another side to the basic income argument, however. First and foremost, critics are concerned where the money will come from. An issue which, for now, remains unclear. But it’s important to note that the connection between welfare or “free money” and laziness and unemployment has been all but debunked.
“As safety nets have increased, so has the debate about whether they simply discourage work, enabling a ‘lazy poor,’ a 2015 study around welfare reads. “Aggregating evidence from randomized evaluations of seven cash transfer programs, we find no effects of transfers on work behavior, either for men or women.”
So there you have it, basic income could be coming to Ontario. Do you support it? Let us know in the comments below!