Experiences of the Ontario Basic Income Pilot

About the Project

The Ontario Basic Income Pilot, devised as an alternative approach to poverty reduction, ran from 2017-2019. The pilot provided a substantial increase in benefits compared to the traditional social assistance programs, Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program.

When the project, and all associated government research, was cancelled prematurely, community efforts led to the collection and preservation of data, to ensure that insights were not lost.

These efforts included a collaboration between a team of researchers from the School of Labour Studies at McMaster University and the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction. They released the Southern Ontario Basic Income Experience report in 2020, describing primarily quantitative findings from their research with recipients in the Hamilton area.

In 2020, researchers from Carleton School of Social Work joined the team, to carry out analysis of the qualitative interview data collected by the original researchers.


The original project was supported by the Hamilton Community Foundation and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. The secondary analysis of qualitative data at Carleton University was supported by further funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, as well as the Carleton Faculty of Public Affairs.

Research Team

Dr. Beth Martin

Dr. Tom McDowell

Dr. Mohammad Ferdosi

Kendal David, MSW

Amy Ma, MSW

Rebekah Ederer, MSW


The SSHRC PEG grant covered the funds for researchers to run a basic workshop with the Hamilton Poverty Roundtable on the qualitative findings from the project. However, in discussion with the Roundtable, we recognised an opportunity to fold this workshop into a larger event to recognise 5 years since OBIP, which afforded greater opportunities for dissemination of multiple outputs related to research on OBIP.

Alongside the launch of this project’s report, the day-long event included the launch of the zine produced in collaboration with BICYN, a showing of a documentary film produced by the Roundtable followed by a panel discussion with former OBIP participants, presentations featuring major players in basic income in Canada such as Kathleen Wynne, Sheila Regehr, Jamie Swift and Elaine Power, and a discussion by Chandra Pasma, MPP on advocacy efforts moving forward.

The Carleton Centre for Studies on Poverty and Social Citizenship provided additional financial support for the event

Media coverage of the event

Project Outputs

Final report: Life on Basic Income: Stories from Southern Ontario

Academic articles (coming soon!)

We also supported the Basic Income Canada Youth Network in two knowledge dissemination projects using the data from this (and one other) project:


Room to Dream: A zine about the Ontario Basic Income Pilot