More than a third of basic income recipients went back to school: Survey

By Roderick Benns

“I am forever grateful I was chosen to be a recipient, and I wish that one day all countries would adopt this method of caring for those who have less income."

OBIP Chronicles – More than 33 per cent of respondents to a survey about the Ontario Basis Income Pilot were going back to school to further their education.

Jenna, a woman in her 40s, says her partner was able to go back to school and their son was able to participate in activities that helps with his motor disorder.

“My partner felt previous problems returning,” after the basic income pilot’s cancellation she says in the survey. “We only received a very small amount of money, comparatively, but it made a huge difference.”

More than 1,500 of the 4,000 basic income pilot recipients agreed to help the Basic Income Canada Network and the Ontario Basic Income Network continue working for a basic income. BICN conducted a survey of those people. Well over 400 responses have already come back, representing more than 10 per cent of those receiving basic income in Ontario, allowing us to write this special series. The Lindsay Advocate, working in cooperation with BICN, is pleased to be the media partner highlighting these stories. Names have been changed to protect identities.

Ryan, a young mother who works part-time, says in the survey that she was “better able to afford school, groceries and my car (and) insurance.”

But she had to cancel her plans. “It made me better able to afford life as a 25-year-old going to school full time and working part time,” she explains.

For Gina, a post-secondary student, she says that “basic income changed my life.”

“I am a full time student and had (non-paid) placement four days a week; there was almost no time for a part time job,” she says in the survey.

She says she can now afford travel to school, pay for insurance, a gym membership, her phone bill, and her groceries.

Gina notes she is fortunate enough to be in great health and under 24 “so I receive free medicine from the government.”

“I bought glasses, contacts and my stress had gone significantly down. Self care was something I really improved on with basic income.”

The basic income pilot changed her life in so many ways within such a short amount of time, she says in the survey.

“I am forever grateful I was chosen to be a recipient, and I wish that one day all countries would adopt this method of caring for those who have less income. I am able to continue my Bachelors, continue my non-paid full time co-op, afford the ever increasing prices for necessities and spend more time with my loved ones. It’s a shame that (Premier Doug) Ford had to ruin these basic income recipient peoples’ lives in such a transitional time.”

Dylan, who is in his 30s and married with children, did not graduate from high school. But basic income was helping his fiancé return to school – and so it was helping the family.

“I was able to stay at home with my one-year-old daughter while my fiancé went back to school. And this March, when she finishes, I am going back to work,” he says.

Yvonne is a 30-something female who was working full time, and qualified for a top-up of basic income. With basic income, she was able to afford a vehicle to get to her appointments. She suffers chronic pain and has dealt with some mental challenges for most of her life.

While she has a hard time working full time, she pushes herself to do so “because ODSP takes too long and costs a lot of money for doctors’ notes.”

“It (basic income) has also helped me to save up to go to school in January to gain a trade in horticulture. Someday I could open my own small business,” she says in the survey.

“Now I have to push my dreams and goals back and who knows if I can ever pursue any of them?”

Yvonne says she is “devastated” and has a feeling of being lost, now that she can’t move forward with her goals and dreams.”

The Ontario Basic Income Pilot was initiated by the Province in 2017 in three areas – Hamilton region, Thunder Bay area, and Lindsay. Four thousand people were involved, with 2,000 of them in Lindsay to see if there would be a community-wide effect, given the smaller population (20,000 people) of the Kawartha Lakes centre. It was set to run for three years. When the PC government was elected in the summer of 2018, it cancelled the program despite a campaign promise to allow it to continue, announcing that payments will only run until March of 2019.


  1. Melina Goguen says:

    My son has scizophrenia. The Basic Income allowed him to rent a decent, clean 1 bedroom apt. Now he’s forced to live in a dingy room. Often time occupied by drug dealers & addicts. How can this be humane?

  2. Melina Goguen says:

    My 35 year old daughter was forced to leave her job, (10 years) her home because of domestic abuse. The Basic Income was allowing her to go to college, relocate to Peterborough ( where the college is) and to pay rent in a clean apt. On Ontario Works she cannot afford to go back to school. She is currently depressed, and despaired because come March she will have no more Basic Income. Ontario Works doesnt give her even enough to adequately feed herself.

  3. This is basically because everyone realizes the need for a college degree now. This will ensure that they can rise above the minimum wages and make a life for themselves.

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