Finland is set to start the New Year with the start of a two-year pilot project to test the concept of a guaranteed basic income.
2,000 citizens will receive the equivalent of $788 Canadian a month for the next two years.
Participants were randomly selected, but had to be receiving unemployment benefits or an income subsidy. The money they are paid through the program will not be taxed.
If the program is successful, it could be expanded to include all adult Finns.
The Finnish government thinks the initiative could save money in the long run. The country’s welfare system is complex and expensive to run, and simplifying it could reduce costly bureaucracy.
The idea of a basic guaranteed income is something Ontario is considering.
The province has earmarked $25-million to establish a pilot project somewhere in the province by this April.
Former Conservative senator Hugh Segal, who is running the program, has said any pilot project in Ontario must be in place for at least three years to be able to measure impacts effectively.
London has indicated it would like to be a test site for the pilot project.
Pilot programs are also being discussed in Quebec, Alberta and Prince Edward Island.
Switzerland last year considered giving every adult citizen a guaranteed income of $2,500 a month, but the plan was rejected in a referendum. More than 75% of voters were against the measure.