top feature image

Ontario Government Announces Basic Income Pilot

April 26, 2017

On Monday, April 24, 2017, the Government of Ontario published details about the Ontario Basic Income Pilot.  In June of 2016, the provincial government asked a long-standing advocate for basic income in Ontario Hugh Segal to advise on how to best design an Ontario pilot program for basic income. In November of 2016, Segal released a report entitled Finding a Better Way: A Basic Income Pilot for Ontario, which contained a number of key considerations and recommendations on how the Government of Ontario should design a basic income pilot.

Next, the Government relied on Segal’s report to launch the consultation phase of the Ontario Basic Income Pilot, holding consultations from a cross-section of people across Ontario. Between Nov. 3, 2016 and Jan. 31, 2017:

  • 32,870 people responded to the public survey
  • 1,213 people responded to the expert survey
  • 1,193 people attended the in-person meetings

537 written submissions were received from private citizens and community groups. In March 2017, Ontario released the Basic Income Consultations: What We Heard report summarizing the feedback gathered from the government consultations.

Together with Public Health Ontario and the Association of Local Public Health Agencies, the OPHA submitted a response to the consultation, calling on the Government to target social assistance recipients, the working poor, including those precariously employed and under-employed, young adults transitioning from school to the labour market and youth between the ages of 16 and 17 years old living independently of a parent or guardian.

In the response, the three organizations pointed out how receiving a basic income is hypothesized to alleviate poverty and food insecurity (i.e., lack of access to adequate food because of financial constraints), reduce psychosocial risk factors such as life stress (i.e., worrying less about money) and increase mental bandwidth (resulting from decreased participation in social assistance system).

OPHA’s support for basic income is informed by overwhelming evidence of the powerful link between income and health. People living with a lower income are at far greater risk of preventable medical conditions across the lifespan, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, mental illness and their associated health care costs, compared with those living with higher incomes. Our members feel strongly that ensuring everyone has an income sufficient to meet basic needs and live with dignity would be one of the most important initiatives the provincial government could pursue to promote health, well-being and equity amongst Ontarians. 

The pilot will measure outcomes in areas such as: 

  • Food security 
  • Stress and anxiety 
  • Mental health 
  • Health and healthcare usage 
  • Housing stability 
  • Education and training 
  • Employment and labour market participation.


The pilot will take place in the following locations: 

  • Hamilton, Brantford and Brant County – Launching late spring 2017 
  • Thunder Bay and the surrounding area – Launching late spring 2017 
  • Lindsay – Launching by fall 2017. 

The locations were selected so that the pilot can study outcomes in urban, rural and mixed urban/rural areas. The regions were also assessed for their economic need, demographics and access to local resources and services.

First Nations

The government is working with First Nations communities and partners on an approach that reflects the advice and unique perspectives of First Nations communities, organizations and peoples. In a separate but parallel process, a basic income pilot for First Nations is being co-created and designed in collaboration with First Nations partners. 

For more information, read the full Government of Ontario press release here or visit the Ministry of Community and Social Services website here

OPHA Media contact: 

Mary Wales, Communications Coordinator, 416-367-3313, x256