Parliamentary Budget Office estimates cost of a Guaranteed Basic Income Considering COVID

The following summary text is quoted from the PBO report Executive Summary …

The study is based on the Ontario pilot project, which began in 2017, but was terminated by the new government under Doug Ford. The report does not try to estimate what effects a Guaranteed Basic Income would have on work behaviour of eligible recipients; nor the impacts on their health, or on their children.

A parliamentarian requested that the PBO estimate the cost of a guaranteed basic income (GBI) program to ensure all Canadians between 18 and 64 have income of at least 75% of the Low-Income Measure (LIM; $24,439 for an individual and $34,562 for a couple) for the last six months of the fiscal year 2020-21.

The parliamentarian directed that the PBO should use the parameters set out in Ontario’s 2017 basic income pilot project. This pilot guaranteed individuals and couples with at least $16,989 and $24,027 of income per year, respectively.

As directed by the requestor, PBO presents three estimates based on scenarios that phase-out the benefit by $0.50, $0.25 and $0.15 for each dollar of employment income.

Basic income gross cost

Overall, as shown in Summary Figure 1, PBO estimates that the basic gross cost of the GBI would range between $45.8 billion and $96.4 billion based on the three scenarios for the six-month period. The supplemental guaranteed income for disability would be $1.7 billion.


Building on PBO’s earlier analysis and at the behest of the requestor, PBO prepared an update of the potential offsets that could be generated if GBI replaced some income support measures targeted toward low-income and/or disabled individuals between the ages of 18 and 64.5

PBO estimates the potential offsets from repealing these measures would be just over $15 billion for the October 2020 to March 2021 (inclusive) period.

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