Manitoba researchers are looking into a social experiment in the 1970s in which the working poor received a living wage to help make ends meet.

Called Mincome, the program was tested out primarily in Dauphin.

Pierre Trudeau and the federal Liberals partnered with Ed Schreyer's Manitoba NDP to operate the program.

"People would receive benefits even if they were working. It actually dealt with the working poor in a way that social assistance didn't," said Evelyn Forget, a University of Manitoba professor examining Mincome.

Forget has spent part of the past five years examining the program.

About 1,000 people participated in Mincome in the 1970s.

Each month, families would receive payments.

Amy Richardson and her family were among those who received the monthly payments through the program.

"It certainly helped out," said Richardson.

The lower a person's income, the bigger the payment they received.

"Because of the way social assistance was delivered. There was a strong incentive not to work, to stay and continue to collect social assistance. The guaranteed income was in fact an attempt to encourage people to work because you'd still receive at least some supplementation while you were working," said Forget.

Forget said the program was a success and people kept working and more students were graduating because they could afford to stay in school instead of quitting for a job to support their families.

Mincome lasted for only four years.

Researchers said when Canada fell into an economic recession in the late 1970s, the federal government decided not to renew the program because it couldn't afford the payouts.

"I thought it was a good thing, but it's just they ran out of money and that was the end of it," said Richardson.

Forget said it's a long shot to consider a similar program launching nowadays, considering proposed changes to social programs and pensions.

But Forget said there were savings to be had under the program.

Hospitalization rates dropped by eight-and-a-half per cent during the Mincome period.

"Canada every year spends about $ 50 billion on hospitalizations right now. If you could reduce those hospitalization costs by eight-and-a-half per cent as we found occurred in Dauphin - we're looking at $4 billion dollars (in savings) and that's a lot of money," said Forget.

Even though times have changed, Richardson believes a program similar to Mincome could currently work out.

"It would help out the young people getting started," said Richardson.

Forget said her research on Mincome is being shared with provincial and federal governments.