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The Impacts of the Ontario Basic Income Pilot: A Comparative Analysis of the Findings from the Hamilton Region

  • Tom McDowell EMAIL logo and Mohammad Ferdosi
From the journal Basic Income Studies


This article provides the findings of a quantitative and qualitative study of participants from the prematurely cancelled Ontario Basic Income Pilot in the Hamilton region. We compare our evidence with those of other large-scale experiments from the high-income countries between 1968 and 2019 to place OBIP’s findings in the context of evidence from randomized control experiments with similar policy conditions to Ontario’s. Our study identified a small decline in labour market participation, but improvements on a variety of quality-of-life measurements. We hypothesize that OBIPs comparatively positive results on general well-being can be attributed to its: i) generous benefit rates relative to social assistance rates; ii) 50 percent take back rate; and iii) unconditionality; iv) broad well-being/welfare design.

Corresponding author: Tom McDowell, Department of Politics and Public Administration, Ryerson University, Toronto, ON, Canada, E-mail:

Funding source: Hamilton Community Foundation

Award Identifier / Grant number: 20190753

Funding source: McMaster University, The School of Labour Studies

Award Identifier / Grant number: 20010970


The authors would like to thank Wayne Lewchuk for sharing his experience and expertise in a most generous manner throughout the project’s development. Dr. Lewchuk was contracted by the Ministry of Social Service to evaluate the Ontario Basic Income pilot project. However, his contract was cancelled before any meaningful data was collected by his evaluation team. None of the limited data gathered by the evaluation team was used in this article. All research conducted for this article received ethics approval through the McMaster University Research Ethics Board.

  1. Research funding: This study was made possible through funding from the Hamilton Community Foundation, McMaster University and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.


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Received: 2020-01-28
Accepted: 2021-02-11
Published Online: 2021-02-25

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