Like in many developed countries, manufacturing jobs have been disappearing in Canada for the past several decades. The loss in these jobs has resulted in the rise of poverty and has had a devastating effect on many people and communities. Although the Canadian government has implemented various poverty-alleviation programs in the past, they have usually been meager and unstable, never leading to systemic changes across impoverished communities. Ontario is now piloting a poverty-reduction program designed around the concept of universal basic income, which experts believe will successfully alleviate the area’s poverty.
Universal basic income is a periodic cash payment delivered on an individual basis without any conditions to citizens. Experimental studies that have been done around the world on unconditional cash benefits have often shown it to be one of the most effective ways of reducing poverty. Ontario is piloting a basic income program in three cities that have been hardest hit by the loss of manufacturing jobs. The program would give a single adult an annual basic income of just under $17,000 a year. The hope is that the basic income will encourage people to further their education, take more time to find the right job and overall improve an individual’s well being. This would reduce health care costs and act as an incentive for employees to provide better wages and job security.
Critics of the program say that basic income gives the government an excuse to not enact more extensive and expansive social policy changes. Others believe that this will force the government to cut other social programs. And some simply don’t trust the government to be capable of implementing this program, given the failures of other poverty reduction strategies by the country. However, a recent survey conducted about the basic income program showed that most people were generally supportive of the basic income pilot.
Read the full story here (via Quartz)
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