Last year, as millions of Canadians were told they may have to stay home, close businesses, and physically and socially isolate from the outside world, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) — a federal government initiative to pay $2,000 per month to Canadians in financial crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s been a controversial move, but not completely unprecedented in North America. The CERB has a lot in common with the concept of Universal Basic Income , UBI as it is commonly known.

Though they’re different from each other, the main idea is the same: a government puts a set amount of money into the pockets of citizens, monthly or annually. The goal is to eliminate poverty, grow the middle class, and boost the economy, according to UBI Works, a group that advocates for the policy.