Ontario’s new Conservative government has said it will scrap the province’s basic income pilot, calling it expensive and unsustainable – and bringing an abrupt end to North America’s first government-backed trial of the idea in decades.
The previous Liberal government launched the pilot program last year,touting it as a unique three-year foray into a policy touted as a panacea to poverty, bloated bureaucracy and the rise of precarious work.
The C$150m pilot recruited 4,000 participants across three regions of the Canadian province, ranging from people working in low-paying or precarious jobs to those on social assistance. Social scientists watched closely as the unconditional payments began to flow last year, tracking whether the funds would improve health, education and housing outcomes.
Even at its launch, uncertainty hung over whether the multi-year project would survive Ontario’s June election. In April, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives said that the party would push forward with the trial.
Soon after, the new government seemingly reversed its position on basic income.