Last year, Ontario’s Liberal government announced a series of basic income pilot projects. The projects would test a $1,320 per month basic income for unemployed residents of select towns in the province.
Smith’s Falls, a small city near Ottawa, has voted not to participate.
Despite support from the city’s mayor, council voted 3-2 against implementing a basic income for its residents. Smith’s Falls is still reeling from the closure of a Hershey’s plant and Stanley Tools, which together employed almost a thousand people.
“I have to believe they didn’t understand what they were voting down,” said one resident. “This can be considered not just a handout to those who are less fortunate, including hungry kids and destitute seniors. This could be considered the best stimulus package this community could hope for.”
According to the CBC, a third of the community’s children now live below the poverty line, and both home ownership and incomes have declined.
“If you’re living in despair or addiction or crisis all the time because you can’t make ends meet and you don’t know where the next meal is going to come from, and you’re feeding non-nutritious food to your kids because that’s all you can afford, the future of those kids is going to be the same as the parents,” said Smith’s Falls Mayor Shawn Pankow.
Those who opposed the initiative have yet to present a compelling argument.
City councillor Dawn Quinn, who’s against a basic income, said people in poverty should learn how to stretch their money. “I was raised by a mother who said, ‘Give me a pound of hamburger and a bag of macaroni and I can feed my family for a week.’ We need more of that kind of thinking,” she said.
Feeding your family nothing but ground beef and macaroni is an objectively bad idea. Try finding the motivation to get your life on track with that diet.
Support for basic income projects around the world, meanwhile, has been mixed. Earlier this month, Finland began testing an $800-a-month income for the unemployed, while Swiss voters rejected a more generous basic income for its citizens last summer.