Leah Hamilton: “”Human again”: the (unrealized) promise of basic income in Ontario
Leah Hamilton and James P. Mulvale have researched into the implications of the truncated basic income pilot in Ontario, Canada. From a set of controlled, semi-structured interviews, five participants agreed to subject to the procedure. These participants had experienced both conditional welfare programs such as the Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program, and were beneficiaries of the Ontario basic income pilot until it was terminated by Doug Ford’s cabinet.
The conclusions show that the basic income pilot had effects that contrasted with those experienced by the participants in the traditional social security programs. So, while in the latter, participants felt trapped in “a cycle of precarity and dependence”, the former made them feel “human again”, since “they had always desired to be members of the workforce and gain financial independence”. The study’s conclusions also match other research efforts comparing traditional welfare with basic income type of experiments, which reinforces those same conclusions. It also refers the need to consider potential hidden savings in health costs, and additional economic activity brought by basic income policies. Those cost savings and potentially larger tax collection must then be a part of any serious effort to finance basic income, particularly in high-income countries.
The following abstract accompanies the article:
Neoliberal social assistance programs are broadly seen as inadequate and intrusive. This phenomenological analysis compares social assistance in Ontario, Canada, and a recent pilot project to test basic income as an alternative method of enabling economic security and social participation via qualitative interviews with pilot recipients who had previously received traditional assistance. Results indicate a desire to be financially independent, but that the conditionality of traditional programs had negative repercussions including work disincentives and deleterious bureaucratic hurdles. Respondents reported that basic income has improved their nutrition, health, housing stability, and social connections; and better facilitated long-term financial planning.
More information at:
Leah Hamilton & James P. Mulvale (2019) “Human Again”: The (Unrealized) Promise of Basic Income in Ontario, Journal of Poverty
Leah Hamilton, “Why Welfare Doesn’t Work: And What We Should Do Instead”, Basic Income News, June 29th 20128