Ontario Basic Income Pilot To Replace ODSP

basic income!

UPDATE: Saturday, September 9

There were some questions regarding what would happen post-pilot to those that are on ODSP. Here is the response from the ministry:

Thank you for your e-mail to the Ministry of Community and Social Services concerning the Basic Income Pilot.

As you may know, we launched the three-year pilot in late spring in Hamilton, Brantford and Brant County, and in Thunder Bay and the surrounding area, and Lindsay will be added this fall. Invitations to apply are being mailed to a randomly selected sample of mailing addresses in the initial pilot regions.

To participate in the pilot, social assistance recipients would need to withdraw from social assistance. Ontario Works and ODSP clients will remain eligible for the Ontario Drug Benefit, and those on ODSP will remain eligible for dental benefits if they were receiving them prior to entering the pilot.

Prior to the end of the pilot, the Basic Income will be gradually phased out. Participants who wish to return to ODSP will follow the existing rapid reinstatement process. Rapid reinstatement is a streamlined re-application process for granting income support to a former ODSP recipient without re-adjudicating the applicant’s disability.

For further assistance and information about this or any other aspect of the application or pilot process, I encourage any person who has received a Basic Income Pilot invitation in the mail to use either of the contact options in the package to reach the Centralized Pilot Team directly.

Please visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/ontario-basic-income-pilot for more information about the Basic Income Pilot as our work continues.

UPDATE: Monday, May 29.

The Ontario Basic Income Pilot page is up with more details on the program, locations, participants, what’s measured, payment amount, impact on other benefits, evaluation and reporting.

UPDATE: Sunday, May 7.

Ontario launches basic income pilot for 4,000 in Hamilton, Thunder Bay, Lindsay.

Source: The Star and CBC

This will be a 3-year pilot and the dollar amount to be provided looks to be the same as what was in the proposal with no impact on any drug and medical coverage. Under the plan, single adults between the ages of 18 and 64 will receive up to $16,989 annually and couples will receive up to $24,027. People with disabilities will receive an additional $6,000. Single people would have to earn less than about $34,000 to qualify and the income cut-off for couples would be about $48,000, according to a government spokeswoman.

The program will begin rolling out spring and summer in Thunder Bay and the Hamilton area, including Brantford and Brant County. Lindsay will join the project in the fall. About 1,000 households will be chosen in the Hamilton area and another 1,000 will be invited to participate in Thunder Bay. About 2,000 are expected to take part in Lindsay, where larger community impacts of the basic income will be studied. Participants must be living in one of the test locations for the past 12 months or longer to be eligible.

Basic Income has been in the news lately, with Elon Musk, CEO and founder of Tesla and SpaceX back in November 2016, predicting that the rise of machines in the workplace could soon mean job displacement and a ‘universal basic income’ for humans. Finland is one of the first countries in 2017 to pilot which started on January 1.

What exactly is basic income?

According to the Basic Income Earth Network, a basic income is a periodic cash payment unconditionally delivered to all on an individual basis, without means-testing or work requirement.

Many reasons have all been invoked in Basic Income’s favour, including liberty and equality, efficiency and community, common ownership of the Earth and equal sharing in the benefits of technical progress, the flexibility of the labour market and the dignity of the poor, the fight against inhumane working conditions, against the desertification of the countryside and against interregional inequalities, the viability of cooperatives and the promotion of adult education, autonomy from bosses, husbands and bureaucrats.

The inability to tackle unemployment with conventional means has, in the last decade or so, become a major reason for the idea being taken seriously throughout Europe by a growing number of scholars and organisations. Social policy and economic policy can no longer be conceived separately, and Basic Income is increasingly viewed as the only viable way of reconciling two of their respective central objectives: poverty relief and full employment.

What is happening in Ontario?

In June 2016, the Ontario government asked the Honourable Hugh Segal for advice on the design of a Basic Income Pilot. As a result, Mr Segal has submitted a discussion paper, Finding a Better Way: A Basic Income Pilot for Ontario. Which the government is using as the platform for the pilot.

What excites me most is that the recommendations of the Ontario Basic Income pilot would replace Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), which removes many of the restrictions of those two existing programs on current recipients. As noted in the discussion paper:

In answer to this set of questions, it is recommended that the pilot focuses on testing a Basic Income in the form of a NIT (what some would call a refundable tax credit) that would replace Ontario Works and ODSP, and for which Ontarians aged 18 to 65 living in poverty would be eligible. Unlike the support provided under the current Ontario Works and ODSP, the financial support provided would not impose restrictions, limits or interdictions related to financial assets, work-based earnings, or labour force participation.

Individuals would be guaranteed an income equivalent to a determined proportion of the LIM (that proportion differing across experimental groups), which would not be taxed. Additional earnings beyond the Basic Income would be encouraged and taxed at varying rates. These tax rates would apply until an individual has paid, in taxes on earned income, the exact equivalent of the Basic Income, with a threshold (or break-even point) after which earned incomes would be subject to the normal income tax schedule by which all working Ontarians are governed. The taxation mechanisms applied to earned incomes in the context of the NIT would provide incentives for individuals whose incomes are currently below the poverty line to join or remain in the workforce. They would also reduce the costs to the province of implementing a Basic Income, should it choose to do so after studying the results of the pilot.

Basic Income Ontario

As you can see in the table above, a single adult would see an increase of $787.75 to $1915.75 per month, and for a couple, $814.25 to $2502.25 per month on basic income compared to ODSP, and you would still be able to earn on top of that without same restrictions. The only thing that the paper doesn’t address is whether the other programs within ODSP such as health or disability-related benefits would be cut.

It is of course not full proof and with concerns such as how would we pay for the basic income programs? However, I am optimistic with Ontario piloting this program, and unlike the Mincome experiment in Manitoba back in the 1970s, to have concrete results and to truly address poverty relief and full employment for all.

Be sure to participate in the Ontario Basic Income Pilot public survey before January 31, 2017.

About Terrence 78 Articles

I am passionate about people and focused on developing meaningful opportunities for people with accessibility needs through social entrepreneurial initiatives in journalism, consulting, and arts. As a TED talks junkie, I would love to hear your story and ideas. Reach out and connect with me!



  1. If this program does in deed take of and let’s say that it will replace social assistance.
    What happens in the three years when it’s done taking its course will they bring back social assistance?
    Thank you

    • Hi, Cindy, it’s uncertain until the government’s plan is released later this year and to understand the final details. According to what’s been shared so far, it does suggest that a couple who are on ODSP, would receive approximately $2,500 per month on the Basic Income Pilot.

  2. I am confuse is the Ont Basic Is to start in 3 years or April 30, 2017, in sept 2017 why would Ottawa Ont wait 3 years, people need housing the waiting list for Ottawa Community housing is 8 years some of the housing projects are not save to live. Instead of having all this meeting that cost $1750 for a ticket professional to attend the meeting. Ottawa Ont need this program to start april 2017.

    • Hi, Andrea, great points that a basic income program is valuable sooner than later. However, until we see what the proposed pilot program will look like we won’t know the true impact it will have. And as for housing, much like Ottawa, Toronto is also having the same problems, don’t think that the basic income pilot will solve the waitlist for community housing.

  3. Ive been trying to figure this out, are they going to help us now and then study how it goes or are they going to watch us suffer for 3 years then help us? lol

    • Hi Joseph, if you’re living in one of the pilot program areas which was announced, Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Lindsay for the past 12-months you would qualify. More details at the top of this page.

      • How do I apply? I am not on odsp or ow I only count on what my common law partner brings in with Manulife and cpp. We barely make ends meet every month. I was on odsp when we first met. I went off because he was working and made enough money for the two of us. Now his health isn’t good and I take care of him so I can’t work. Would I qualify for this program? Could you please send me in the right direction for help? Thank you in advance.

      • That’s not intirly true. I live in one of the select cities and I received a call from the legal aid. They call and gave me a couple dates as when they were doing application clinics. I went and signed up. Now I wait to see if I am selected to take part in the project.

  4. I was just made aware of this pilot program. I didn’t complete any surveys pertaining to the program in 2015-16. I reside in one of the areas included in the pilot program. Will I be included as a participant?
    I’m also an ODSP recipient who back in August 2016 was diagnosed with Melanoma cancer on top of having other physical and mental health issues.
    I wasn’t told anything about this from my ODSP caseworker. Shouldn’t she have told me about the survey ?

  5. I was just made aware of this pilot program. I didn’t complete any surveys pertaining to the program in 2015-16. I reside in one of the areas included in the pilot program. Will I be included as a participant?
    I’m also an ODSP recipient who back in August 2016 was diagnosed with Melanoma cancer on top of having other physical and mental health issues.
    I wasn’t told anything about this from my ODSP caseworker. Shouldn’t she have told me about the survey ? I haven’t read anything pertaining to WHEN the pilot program is set to commence, or did I miss that part ?

    • Hi Anita, it was only recently announced which cities will be part of the three-year pilot. I’m not sure what the ODSP caseworkers would have been told about such pilot and survey. More details at the top of this page.

  6. I am quite confused, I am a single parent raising 2 children, working 2 part time jobs. I have been told by the government that I make too much money to qualify for any assistance. How is it possible for an Ontario Works recipient to make money than a single parent working 2 jobs and not be expected to find employment??

    • If you make less than than the qualifying amount needed to be in the pilot then you can receive it. This is open to everyone. In fact the gov thinks less than 30% of the participants will be from ODSP/Social Services

  7. This basic income pilot is a good idea but indeed very bad news for all ODSP and OW people. Its pure political and not to help a majority of us.
    For the next three years , we may forget about any changes in ODSP and OW , unless you live in the three communities chosen for the pilot.
    This pilot project is just smart way out from fixing rates for all in need . Very sad that no one noticed that three years is a very long time to wait to fix real problems for 95% of the rest of ODSP and OW dependants. Poor have lost hope already and glorifying basic income project is a false trick to gain time by the government which does nothing to ease up the suffering of the real majority of people living under poverty line for years.

  8. The Government is willing to study forever ,,,in order to stall ANY significant reform leading to raising the ODSP rates .
    WE KNOW THAT ODSP RATES ARE LOW , creating unwanted poverty .
    Why the Minister is not including ALL ODSP dependents ????
    Why wait three years to see only if rates could be fixed ???
    Vote NDP , from now on……please.

  9. this government is very wrong in just doing 3 cities what about all other cities thousands of us on odsp and ow everyone on assistance should be on the pilot program not just 3 cities we cant live on such a low income we all should be on pilot program now lots us are hungry lots times do without lots homeless low rates a 2 percent raise is like a slap in the face we all should be on this now were living in poverty these 3 cities will not have to struggle each day being on the pilet program and they now wont go hunry it doesn’t take 3 years to see if it work it will work this government just doesn’t want to pay out all the money to the poor that’s in poverty 2020 I bet the pilet ends they will have another excuse to not help poor that been living in poverty and will continue 3 years long time should be able see it work in 3 months not 3 years government needs look at this pilet program now and help poor 3 years to long everyone in poverty should be on it now its not fair people are starving and dieing doesn’t this goverment care it be nice to be able to eat not go hungry half time im on odsp have servere emphysema I live in poverty this government needs to take a day live like we do see how it feels Kingston Ontario every city needs pilet program now not 3 years from now step up do right thing for all in poverty

    • This pilot is about low incomes period. Not ODSP/assistance. Some families with children live on less than 20k and this will help them too. Its open to everyone in the selected area’s. If you live in Lindsay you have a better chance of getting it than the other area’s,way way smaller population and double the participants.

    • They waste money traveling, where the $1.715 to rent a meeting could help low and moderate income people, if the rate could be rise to 30% we can live better. Every 6 months just little rise all the time, does not make any sense, we do not need a rise in asset, we need a decent risae in income. Best Regard Andrea Brown

  10. That is all good, but what about the people who actually work? They don’t qualify for financial help, because they make too much money. On minimum wage, or working casual hours. How about helping them first.

  11. If you make less than the cutoff amount then you will be able to apply. If you make more then this is of no use to you. This is less than you would make on minimum wages at 40 hours.Its not going to replace ODSP/Social Services at this time and the majority of participants will be the working poor according to some Social Service workers.Its a trial not a province wide roll out. It may come to nothing and may be cancelled after the election. Who knows.

  12. Hi im on odsp in London Ontario.is everyone getting this extra $500.00 a month we could sure use it if anyone knows about this get back to when its going happpen thank:-)

  13. Great idea but it should help everyone not just a selected few there will be more anger when some get chosen and others left in the cold. I myself receive less than five thousand a year and I guarantee I won’t be selected.

  14. I think guaranteed income is a good idea however pilot project will be unfair I receive less than five thousand a year. I can guarantee I will not be chosen for this program. I firmly believe everyone should be allowed to participate. All this means another 3years of suffering.As for odsp where I live these people get 1200.00 a month they pay 139. In rent they have more than enough to survive help should be for all not a select few. Anyway take care all.

  15. Joe you are absolutely wrong odsp recipients do not get 1200.00 nor pay 139.00 in rent I know because i recieve odsp I recieve almost 1100.00 and i am left with 200.00 a month after rent

    • Hi Susan I’m right I live in a building I know I pay 115 a month I presently receive ow but I do work part time all government housing people know this only odsp benefit in government housing people in private sector do need help. People in the building where I live on odsp feel they are entitled to everything.

    • Pilot project is simply an item for relection its been tested before governments are great at wasting time and money. Liberal government is nothing but a joke.it getting more expensive to live there is no middle class anymore we are a society of rich and poor and future for everyone will be different we can thank computers for that.

  16. What happens to the people on ODSP who were chosen to participate, and pilot program ends? Will they have to reapply for ODSP or be put back on automatically? I know someone who was chosen and she more stressed out about having to go through ODSP application process again rather then getting extra money over next three years. Cant find any information about this.

  17. Well… I just filled out the application form for the Basic Income Pilot today at a recruitment drive. I am a single mum on ODSP with one child and I was told if chosen that I would be receiving significantly less than the $30 027 yearly your chart says.. It still means I’m up approximately $400 a month as compared to ODSP but I have to say, I was a little surprised. I was expecting more of an increase.

    • Thanks for sharing Chantal. I wonder why that is. Will look into it.

      Did they give you a timeline as you completed the application to when you’ll start receiving the basic income payments?

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