The concept of guaranteeing people a minimum income is not a new one. There are several countries testing similar programs — some with a universal amount for everyone; others where income is topped up to a certain level — and Ontario wants to test it out

Mike Moffatt, an economist who spoke at the Northern Policy Institute’s Basic Income Guarantee conference and who has worked with the Mowat Centre and the Lawrence National Centre for policy and management, estimates to go beyond current Ontario Works cheques, which average about $650 for a single person with no dependents, the provincial government would need to spend upwards of $15 billion. He also said the government would have to start by returning to the rates paid out in the early 1990s, which with inflation means about $11,000 per person per year. Even that would still be far below what a family would need to purchase groceries, pay rent and pay for public transport.