Betty Wallace. (Photo by Benjamin Shingler)

The Richardson family got a new kitchen table and 12-year-old Eric got his first trip to the dentist.
The Wallaces, who had no running water or indoor plumbing in their farmhouse in the 1970s, were able to buy a nearly-new flatbed truck.
Forty years ago, they were among almost 2,200 Manitoba households that participated in “Mincome,” a three-year federal-provincial experiment that sent unconditional monthly payments to low-income families as a way to combat poverty and streamline social programs.
There was little analysis of the project at the time due to a change in government and political priorities in the late 1970s. But a 2011 study of Mincome turned up some interesting findings about the rural community of Dauphin, Man., where the Richardsons and Wallaces lived and where all low-income households were eligible to participate.
Hospital use in the area dropped, including admissions for accidents and mental health problems, according to University of Manitoba researcher …