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Ontario's Basic Income Trial Gets Backing Of A Majority Of Canadians

05/18/2017 12:20 EDT | Updated 05/18/2017 12:24 EDT

A majority of Canada’s population is eager to experiment with a basic income, a new poll shows.

The poll of 1,969 Canadians from Campaign Research found 53 per cent back Ontario’s basic income trial, with 18 per cent opposed. Support is strongest among youth (59 per cent), Atlantic Canadians (63 per cent), Liberals (62 per cent) and New Democrats (63 per cent).

Even among conservatives, a plurality of respondents supported the idea, albeit at lower levels — 41 per cent in favour and 31 per cent opposed.

“A basic income is seen to be a solution to a host of issues, including combating poverty, said Eli Yufest, CEO of Campaign Research, in a statement. “It is interesting to see that support spans the country geographically, if not politically.”

kathleen wynne

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the details of the basic income pilot project last month. Four thousand households in three municipalities — Hamilton, Lindsay and Thunder Bay — will be selected to receive the basic income.

The payments, which will be given to participants regardless of their circumstances, will start at $17,000 for a single person.

Of those who supported the idea, a plurality — about four in 10 — said $17,000 is “too little.” That opinion is strongest among baby boomers (44 per cent), Green Party supporters (49 per cent) and those who earn below $40,000 a year (43 per cent).

About half — 48 per cent — said it is about right, and only eight per cent felt the amount is “too much.”

Some labour unions — including the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) — have come out against the basic income project, fearing that a streamlined payment system would put many social workers out of work.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau told HuffPost Canada in March that a basic income is not something the federal Liberals are looking at.

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