Planting the Seeds or Squandering the Fruits? Ontario's Basic Income Experiment

Published 25 Mar 2019
Reference 6390
Region Global
Length 21 page(s)

Ontario’s basic income pilot was a social policy experiment designed to redistribute income with the aim of reducing poverty and adapting the social safety net in the face of a changing and increasingly precarious labour market. The three-year project, launched in 2017, was described as the largest government-run basic income project to date. It was designed to provide basic income in the form of negative income tax to 4,000 eligible individuals who were assured a minimum level of income regardless of their employment status. The debate about universal basic income (UBI) continues as governments and private entities around the world pilot different projects. How should UBI funded and who should receive the money? How would it change people’s behavior and labor market participation? Could UBI help society address surging levels of inequality?

Teaching objectives

The case details a guaranteed basic income experiment by a public sector entity (subnational government). It serves as a basis to discuss its potential as a complement or as a viable alternative to existing social welfare and/or social insurance programmes. The case allows for a discussion of some key concepts, including means-tested versus completely universal basic income policies, differences between basic income and traditional welfare programmes, different goals for introducing basic income as a policy, possible funding mechanisms, and the trade-offs associated with the design of the policy.

  • Basic income
  • Universal basic income
  • Negative income tax
  • Guaranteed income
  • Demogrant
  • Cash transfers
  • Ontario basic income
  • Income inequality
  • Basic income debate
  • Work incentives
  • Social welfare
  • Income redistribution
  • Poverty
  • Social policy
  • Q31819