Reality check: does social assistance disincentivize people from working?

August 3, 2018
Article Source
Global News

When Ontario Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod announced the government will renege on a campaign promise to preserve the basic income pilot project, she repeated a familiar refrain.

"It really is a disincentive to get people back on track," MacLeod said.

It's an argument Evelyn Forget has heard many people across the country make over the last four decades.

"It's an idea that's been around forever," says Forget, a professor at the University of Manitoba. "It keeps re-emerging and it seems obvious to people. It seems obvious to economists that if you give people money for nothing nobody will work."

The problem? That argument doesn't hold up if you look at previous pilot projects, like the one Forget spearheaded in Manitoba in the 1970s.

What her work revealed then is being borne out now, she says, in the interviews with people across the province who are speaking out about what the loss of the program will mean for their lives.

Jody Dean said the money had made it possible for her to go back to school on a part-time basis and to buy parking passes to the Hamilton hospital where one of her three children receives care.

Nobody she knows stopped contributing to the economy, as MacLeod alluded to, because of the supplement.

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