04/07/2017 11:43 EDT | Updated 04/07/2017 11:55 EDT

Federal Liberals Reject P.E.I.'s Basic Income Funding Request

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says a basic income is not something the federal government is looking at.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has declined to help fund a basic income experiment on Prince Edward Island.

The legislature in Canada’s smallest province voted unanimously last December to ask the federal government to partner with the province on a basic income trial.

But in an update on its efforts on Thursday, the provincial government said federal Families, Children and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos offered “to provide data to support P.E.I. in developing a pilot” but did not offer any financial support.

Families, Children and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos has declined to help fund a basic income experiment on Prince Edward Island. (Photo: Reuters/Chris Wattie)

The federal Liberals voted last year to make efforts towards a universal basic income a part of party policy. But that does not mean it is government policy.

During a town hall with The Huffington Post Canada last month, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau said that a basic income is “not something we are looking at.”

Morneau said he favours the current system of targeted government benefits.

“We are looking at how we can encourage people to be engaged in the workforce,” he said.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau has said a basic income is "not something we're looking at." (Photo: Reuters/Patrick Doyle)

Prince Edward Island’s government says it would need federal help to fund an island-wide basic income trial.

Provincial Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker, who first put forward the basic income proposal in the provincial legislature, said he was disappointed with Ottawa's response.

"Sadly I take away from that that it's unlikely we're going to see any material change here," he said, as quoted at CBC P.E.I.

Bevan-Baker said he hoped the province would continue pressing Ottawa for funding.

The P.E.I. legislature in Charlottetown. (Photo: King's College)

That’s exactly what P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan plans to do.

“We continue to work on that and we continue to hope for it,” MacLauchlan said in question period, as quoted at the Charlottetown Guardian.

The province’s Family and Human Services Minister, Tina Mundy, said she’s keeping an eye on the basic income pilot project in Ontario, details of which are to be announced this spring.

Bevan-Baker suggested P.E.I. could choose to run a smaller-scale project.

"Pick a region, pick a community. Of course I'd love to see it tip to tip, but you know, if we have to settle for something smaller that could be funded solely through the provincial treasury, then at least that would be something."

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