Universal basic income ditched in Canada, even as US cities try welfare experiment

A Canadian province has ditched a universal basic income welfare program after the government found it was “not sustainable,” making it the latest around the globe to scrap the plan.

The move comes as several American cities flirt with bringing the scheme to the U.S.

Ontario’s new conservative government this week said it would end the pilot program, which gave free government funds to people in low-paying jobs -- instead of welfare benefits -- in the region to test whether the money helped to improve health, education and housing.

The government reportedly called the plan “expensive” and “not sustainable.” Lisa MacLeod, the Ontario minister for social services told The Guardian that the program was “clearly not the answer for Ontario families.”

Ontario’s decision comes on the heels of Finland’s decision to scrap its own test of universal basic income. Finland’s program gave 560 Euros ($584) to 2,000 unemployed Finnish citizens per month, with no requirement to find a paying job. Earlier this year however, Finland decided not to extend the funding to the program.

Even as Canadian and European plans failed, U.S. cities are still pushing to test the scheme.

Stockton, Calif. Is set to become the first in the U.S. to take on the experiment, with a plan to pay 100 residents $500 a month without any conditions. The program’s purpose is to eventually ensure that no one in Stockton, with a population of 300,000, lives in poverty. The receivers of the cash will be able to spend the money on anything they want without any rules or regulations.

Stockton’s plan is slated to launch by 2019, and the tested resident pool will receive the funds for a full 18 months as a trial phase before being rolled out across the city.

Also in California, a startup, Y Combinator, based in Oakland, is giving out $1,500 a month to randomly selected residents.

Chicago is also weighing up the option of introducing the program, which would make it the largest city in the U.S. to get on board.

Alderman Ameya Pawar recently proposed the legislation, which would provide 1,000 families with a $500 monthly stipend — no questions asked.

Pawar’s bill already has the backing of the majority of city lawmakers, and Pawar hopes to soon work with Mayor Rahm Emanuel to implement the pilot program, The Intercept reported.

Nearly 70 percent of Americans don’t have $1,000 in the bank for an emergency,” Pawar told the outlet. “UBI could be an incredible benefit for people who are working and are having a tough time making ends meet or putting food on the table at the end of the month.”

A 2017 Pew Research Center study found that 60 percent of Americans favor the government providing a “guaranteed income that would allow them to meet their basic needs,” as workers with a high school diploma were the most likely to support a universal basic income at 65 percent, and workers with a four-year college education or more at 52 percent.

Fox News’ Lukas Mikelionis, Benjamin Brown and The Associated Press contributed to this report.