Of all the ideas to pull people out of poverty, one of the more contentious is also the simplest: governments should just hand out monthly checks to the poor, no strings attached.
That’s exactly what the Canadian province of Ontario plans to do, and it’s already causing a ruckus. The Liberal Party currently in control of the provincial government aims to roll out a pilot for a “universal basic income” program in three cities in the spring of 2017. While it has yet to identify the three guinea pigs, hints of what the system will look like can be found in a discussion paper authored last August by Hugh Segal, a former member of the Canadian Senate and now head of the University of Toronto’s Massey College.
For such a program to have even a hope of succeeding on a large scale there would have to massive layoffs of the public sector union members who administer the different programs the UBI was designed to displace. That won’t happen.