Ontario, Canada announced a plan to test Universal Basic Income for all citizens

A Canadian province is the latest jurisdiction to take UBI seriously.
A Canadian province is the latest jurisdiction to take UBI seriously.
Image: Reuters/ Chris Wattie
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Canadian province Ontario is taking the next step toward offering a standard income to all citizens: a Universal Basic Income pilot project, set to unroll this year.

Few details of the project have been announced, but according to the province’s 2016 budget statement, “the government will work with communities, researchers and other stakeholders” to figure out how to design the pilot.

Universal Basic Income (UBI) schemes vary hugely, but all involve distributing a small allowance to citizens, regardless of need. The policy has gained popularity as a means of reducing bureaucracy and providing a baseline level of support. Last year, Finland announced that it was conducting an investigation into whether the government could introduce UBI nationwide.

Ontario said in its budget statement that the government hopes to test the view that UBI could provide more economic stability for the future:

“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 labour market.”

The pilot would also aim to establish whether UBI could lead to social services savings overall.

Several Canadian politicians seem tentatively optimistic about the proposal. “There are many different types of guaranteed minimum income. There are many different versions. I’m personally pleased that people are interested in the idea,” Canada’s federal minister of families, children, and social development, Jean-Yves Duclos, told The Globe and Mail.

But Ontario has not yet announced where it might run the pilot or any further details of the proposal. Quartz has contacted Ontario’s ministry of community and social services and will update this post with further details.