Ontario to Experiment with Basic Income, California Single Payer Advances

Ontario is experimenting with the most radical overhaul to the welfare state in North America since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society in the 1960s. Canada’s most important province is planning to experiment with basic income for 4,000 people.

The provincial government will provide up to 4,000 people in Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Lindsay with a $12,500 a year basic income for three years, The Washington Post reported. Researchers will monitor the participants to see what effect basic income has on things like work and education.

The program is expected to cost around $110 million according to The Post. The working poor and welfare recipients who participate in the program will receive the money regardless of work.

Canada’s Second Basic Income Experiment

Participants will be able to keep 50% of what they make from and get child-benefit payments. Couples that participate in the program will receive $17,677 and disabled people will get an extra $4,414 a year.

The experiment has the support of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, but not necessarily that of Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. This is the second time Canada has experimented with Basic Income; a similar test took place in Dauphin, Manitoba, back in the 1970s.

That experiment had little effect on work habits but teenage boys whose families participated were more likely to complete high school, University of Manitoba Economist Evelyn Forget told The Post. Forget has studied the results of that program.

The biggest obstacle to Basic Income might be its cost. A U.S. wide basic income program would cost $4 trillion a year, Cato Institute senior fellow Michael Tanner estimated. Despite that Tanner likes basic income because he thinks it would be better than the current welfare system.

Single-Payer Healthcare Bill Advances in California State Legislature

A single-payer healthcare proposal has cleared its first obstacle in California’s state legislature. The State Senate Health Committee passed Senate Bill (SB) 562 by a five to two vote, The Los Angeles Times reported.

SB 562 would create a state-run health insurance plan that would pay all medical, dental, vision and nursing home expenses for all California residents. Everybody even illegal immigrants would be covered.

Unfortunately some major details are all left out of SB 562 such as cost projections and how the insurance would be paid for. The bill’s cosponsor; Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) promised that a detailed financial study will be available when the bill reaches Senate Appropriations Committee in May.

SB 562 has the support of the California Nurses Association, the California Labor Federation and Our Revolution – the Bernie Sanders fan club, The Times reported. Opponents include business groups, the California Chamber of Commerce and health insurance companies. SB 562 is sponsored by Lara and Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego).

Even if it passes the legislature SB 562 faces some high hurdles including Governor Jerry Brown who is skeptical of the measure. It might also get blocked by the Trump Administration which was granted the power to review and approve state health insurance plans by the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Ironically enough, Trump has been trying to repeal that law.

Few details of the program’s administration are available but Lara and Atkins are planning to study single payer systems in a number of countries including Taiwan, The Times reported. This is the second time California’s state legislature has tried to implement single payer; Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed similar legislation when he was governor.