Ontario will provide residents in Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Lindsay with free income, part of the government’s plan to test whether the extra funds will help improve their job prospects and quality of life.

The idea is to give the province’s working poor, unemployed and homeless residents an income to pay for their basic needs of food and housing.

About 4,000 recipients will be randomly chosen from the three regions. One group will start receiving the so-called basic income as soon as this summer, and the remainder will be part of the control group, which will not receive any payments, according to a provincial spokesman. A single person could receive up to $16,989 per year. A couple could get up to $24,027 annually.

Initially, government officials said 4,000 recipients would receive the funding. A spokesperson later said half of the 4,000 would receive the basic income. Later in the day, the province said it could not confirm how many would receive the basic income.

“One income used to be enough for most families,” Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said in Hamilton to announce the three-year pilot.

“Now even with two people working, it is tough to feel as though you are getting ahead and it is tough to feel confident that your job will still be yours or even still be around in 10 years, in five years or even less,” she said.

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