I was lucky to be part of the basic income pilot project as the research and evaluation advisory group chair. I advised directly the running of the basic income pilot and the link between the basic income pilot and the third party evaluators, who were a consortium of academics. In some ways, as you probably remember, I was a translator between the academic language and the bureaucratic language in order to make it work.
The basic income project had two different bits. It had a randomized control trial in two areas, Hamilton and also in Thunder Bay in the north of Ontario, where people were randomized through either the basic income or not the basic income. It then had a saturation study in a different place, Lindsay, with 22,000 people in a predominantly farming area to see whether there would be a change in the economy in that area if all low-income people were offered the basic income. The basic income or essentially the amount of money you got was based on a tax rebate, which worked very well.
We learned loads of things. One, you can do it. Two, people love it. They find it a much more dignified way of getting their social assistance. Three, entrepreneurs take risks and build businesses if they have backing and they know they have at least a basic income. Four, people change their lives and go back to college. They get into better housing and give themselves a fundamental chance in order to move forward if they have a basic income. People move themselves out of poverty if they have a basic income.
It was a travesty, in my mind, that it was stopped. You can't start a research project, say to people that they have three years in order to revolutionize their lives and then take the money away. It's bad for their health. It's bad, obviously, for the country not to have that information. It made us look bad on the world stage, because people all over the world were looking for these results. When there were follow-ups of some of those people, such as in Hamilton, people who'd gotten even one year of basic income had done better than people who hadn't.
For people, I think it's about time that.... There are rights and responsibilities from being a citizen. Maybe there has to be a deal with the citizens that they have rights, and those rights are for a basic level of income that befits a high-income country.