About 100 Thunder Bay residents gathered for an information session at the West Thunder Community Centre Thursday to find out more about the Ontario government’s Basic Income Pilot study.
The city and its surrounding area were recently selected to take part in the project to assess whether a basic income can better support vulnerable workers and improve health and education outcomes for people on low incomes. The study targets the working poor, unemployed people and homeless individuals. About 70 per cent of people living in poverty in Ontario are classified as working poor.
Thunder Bay is among three regions included in the three-year study along with, Lindsay, and the Hamilton, Brantford and Brant County area.
Using Canada Post data, the provincial government recently began mailing out application packages to randomly selected individuals from all socio-economic backgrounds as part of the study’s first phase. About 3,000 packages have been mailed out to people living in Thunder Bay and the surrounding area.
Karen Glass, assistant deputy minister of the poverty reduction division for the Ministry of Community and Social Services, said the “no strings attached” study is designed to help find a better way to aid people living in poverty, enabling them to live more stable lives. The program is expected to be in full swing by fall, with some participants possibly receiving payments as early as July 25.
“We’ve been receiving some responses, but we’ve been receiving a lot of phone calls asking questions,” said Glass.
Through a refundable tax credit, single participants can receive up to $16,989 while couples can get up to $24,027 annually, minus 50 per cent of any earned income. An additional $6,000 per year for a person with a disability may also be available.
“A basic income can be a simpler, less intrusive way to move people out of poverty and reduce barriers,” said Glass.