Can Ontario’s guaranteed minimum income plan reduce poverty?

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Toronto, March 18 (CINEWS): Everyone knows that the current minimum wage just doesn’t cut it anymore in a city like Toronto and increasingly anywhere else. So then would a guaranteed minimum income help those living in poverty?
The Ontario budget promised a pilot project “that a basic income could build on the success of minimum wage policies and increases in child benefits by providing more consistent and predictable support.”
The Federal Liberals too are open to such an idea on a national level.
The province hasn’t as yet decided which community will be a test site for a basic income guarantee.
So how exactly would this guaranteed minimum income work? Families with incomes well below the poverty line will see it topped up to a level that is yet to be determined. Those favoring such a move say that it could be cost-effective in the short run. For example families living in poverty tend to gravitate toward poorer food choices which in turn translates into more frequent visits to doctors, health issues which end up being costly. Stress-related worries also contribute to poor health. A guaranteed income could help lift many out of poverty, but it would still require the person to make smarter choices.
The Income Security Advocacy Centre says care must be taken to ensure no one is worse off as a result of the Ontario pilot for a basic income guarantee.
People on social assistance in Ontario also get their prescription drugs and dental bills paid for, as well as help with child care, and they should not lose those benefits with a basic income guarantee.
There needs to be some safeguards in the system that would not end up encouraging people to be in a situation where it would be easier to stay on social assistance instead of going out and working.
In other words, the program shouldn’t have the unintended consequence of strengthening the culture of entitlement.

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