In times of crisis, we need to come together to support one another. 

Basic needs are essential at all times, especially during a crisis.

The Government of Manitoba can reduce poverty and homelessness and stop the spread of COVID-19 through immediate action:

  1. Increase the EIA allowances for single adults & for people with disabilities and transform EIA into a Liveable Basic Needs Benefit.
  2. Fully exempt the CERB, CRB and other federal COVID-19 recovery measures from EIA claw backs to ensure EIA benefits are not interrupted or reduced.

Sign the petition to support basic needs.

Scroll to the bottom to take action and see how you can contact the Premier, Minister of Families, and your MLA!

WHAT’S THE SITUATION

There is broad consensus that COVID-19 disproportionately affects people living in poverty as income is a social determinant of health. MPHM is concerned that the Manitoba government is making matters worse by implementing policies that will exacerbate poverty and homelessness, and the spread of COVID-19, as the pandemic surges.

At certain points throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, community resource centres that provided free phones, computers, meals, and other resources  shut down. School meal programs that fed thousands of children each day were no longer operating. Community organizations scrambled to respond but the need was, and is, massive. Food Banks struggled to keep up with demand. For people who usually stretch their EIA budget monthly, options for shopping were limited. Employment options dried up, and looking for work is challenging given the public health order to stay home.

“This is a public health and harm reduction issue – you can’t call Healthlinks without a phone. COVID-19 has made life more challenging for everyone, especially vulnerable Manitobans.”

-Desiree McIvor, MPHM Steering Committee member

There are over 73,000 individual Manitobans on EIA according to the 2018/19 Department of Families annual report. EIA rates are so low, many cannot afford to have a telephone or cell phone. Emergency funding is needed for food and communication needs like wifi or cellphones. Communication is essential to call HealthLinks, a doctor, or communicate with loved ones during a period of social distancing.

“We need to get money into the hands of people who need it most –  the province of Manitoba has a responsibility to help those who rely on provincial social assistance to get through this crisis.”

-Michael Barkman, MPHM Chair

Learn more about the state of EIA in Manitoba here


WHAT WE NEED

1) Increase EIA rates and move to a Liveable Basic Needs Benefit

The desperation that led some EIA recipients to apply for the CERB should come as no surprise. EIA rates have been inadequate for too long.

People who have no choice but to depend on EIA as their only source of income live in a state of emergency most of the time. This includes many people with disabilities, seniors, and single parent households. For example, the $800 a month ($9,600 annually) received by a single person on EIA provides an annual income that is only 53% of the poverty line ($18,272 based on Statistics Canada’s Market Basket Measure). It is barely enough to rent an apartment let alone cover the cost of basic needs that lead to stability and financial independence. The basic needs budget (food, hygiene etc) for those on EIA has not been increased in many years.

MPHM recommends single adults on EIA receive an increase of $383 per month and people with disabilities an increase of $236 per month to bring their annual incomes to 75% of the poverty line. Thanks to federal benefits, parents on EIA have incomes closer to the poverty line. We also recommend changing the EIA claw back on earned income from 70% to 30% of each dollar earned.

This would reduce the welfare wall and increase the incentive to find employment for those on EIA who are able to find work.

2) Employment and Income Assistance Claw Back

In April 2020, the Province decided to claw back Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) for those who received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The same claw back is being applied to CERB’s replacement, the Canada Recovery Benefit. Some CERB recipients were unaware of the claw back and have had their benefits held back or cut. This has left many unable to pay the rent and put food on the table, leaving them at greater risk of homelessness.

The federal government was clear that the CERB was intended to build upon provincial income support programs so that people would be better off. Provinces typically deduct some federal benefits from social assistance dollar for dollar, but the CERB was an exceptional emergency measure put in place during exceptional times. British Columbia, Yukon and Northwest Territories agreed, and exempted CERB from social assistance claw backs. It is not too late for Manitoba to do the same.

Clawing it back serves only to save the Manitoba government money while leaving the most vulnerable at risk.

READ OUR OPEN LETTER TO THE PROVINCE OF MANITOBA CALLING FOR THESE CHANGES


TAKE ACTION NOW

Click on this link to send an email to the Premier (or use: premier@leg.gov.mb.ca), Families Minister Heather Stefanson (or use minfs@leg.gov.mb.ca) and your MLA (see the list below to find their contact information) and tell them:

“The Government of Manitoba can reduce poverty and homelessness and stop the spread of COVID-19 through immediate action:

  1. Increase the EIA allowances for single adults & for people with disabilities and transform EIA into a Liveable Basic Needs Benefit.
  2. Fully exempt the CERB, CRB and other federal COVID-19 recovery measures from EIA claw backs to ensure EIA benefits are not interrupted or reduced.”

Alphabetical List by Members’ Name:

Member Constituency Party
ADAMS, Danielle Thompson NDP
ALTOMARE, Nello Transcona NDP
ASAGWARA, Uzoma Union Station NDP
BRAR, Diljeet Burrows NDP
BUSHIE, Ian Keewatinook NDP
CLARKE, Hon. Eileen Agassiz PC
COX, Hon. Cathy Kildonan-River East PC
CULLEN, Hon. Cliff Spruce Woods PC
DRIEDGER, Hon. Myrna Roblin PC
EICHLER, Hon. Ralph Lakeside PC
EWASKO, Wayne Lac du Bonnet PC
FIELDING, Hon. Scott Kirkfield Park PC
FONTAINE, Nahanni St. Johns NDP
FRIESEN, Hon. Cameron Morden-Winkler PC
GERRARD, Hon. Jon River Heights IND LIB
GOERTZEN, Hon. Kelvin Steinbach PC
GORDON, Audrey Southdale PC
GUENTER, Josh Borderland PC
GUILLEMARD, Hon. Sarah Fort Richmond PC
HELWER, Hon. Reg Brandon West PC
ISLEIFSON, Len Brandon East PC
JOHNSON, Derek Interlake-Gimli PC
JOHNSTON, Scott Assiniboia PC
KINEW, Wab Fort Rouge NDP
LAGASSÉ, Bob Dawson Trail PC
LAGIMODIERE, Alan Selkirk PC
LAMONT, Dougald St. Boniface IND LIB
LAMOUREUX, Cindy Tyndall Park IND LIB
LATHLIN, Amanda The Pas-Kameesak NDP
LINDSEY, Tom Flin Flon NDP
MALOWAY, Jim Elmwood NDP
MARCELINO, Malaya Notre Dame NDP
MARTIN, Shannon McPhillips PC
MICHALESKI, Brad Dauphin PC
MICKLEFIELD, Andrew Rossmere PC
MORLEY-LECOMTE, Janice Seine River PC
MOSES, Jamie St. Vital NDP
NAYLOR, Lisa Wolseley NDP
NESBITT, Greg Riding Mountain PC
PALLISTER, Hon. Brian Fort Whyte PC
PEDERSEN, Hon. Blaine Midland PC
PIWNIUK, Doyle Turtle Mountain PC
REYES, Jon Waverley PC
SALA, Adrien St. James NDP
SANDHU, Mintu The Maples NDP
SCHULER, Hon. Ron Springfield-Ritchot PC
SMITH, Andrew Lagimodière PC
SMITH, Bernadette Point Douglas NDP
SMOOK, Dennis La Vérendrye PC
SQUIRES, Hon. Rochelle Riel PC
STEFANSON, Hon. Heather Tuxedo PC
TEITSMA, James Radisson PC
WASYLIW, Mark Fort Garry NDP
WHARTON, Hon. Jeff Red River North PC
WIEBE, Matt Concordia NDP
WISHART, Ian Portage la Prairie PC
WOWCHUK, Rick Swan River PC