On March 10, 2015 Make Poverty History Manitoba brought approximately 70 people together in Winnipeg to prioritize the public policy recommendations in The View From Here 2015: Manitobans call for a renewed poverty reduction plan.
The View From Here 2015 updates an earlier report that was launched in 2009 which provided a community-based poverty reduction plan for Manitoba. Several public policy recommendations in that report have been acted on by the Province of Manitoba. Community groups felt that, given the new policy context, it was time to update the recommendations that were in the 2009 report.
In the spring of 2014, the Canadian CED Network – Manitoba and CCPA – MB brought people together to provide guidance on the renewed report. The summer and fall were spent consulting with individuals and organizations across Manitoba regarding their priorities for reducing poverty. In the end, nearly 50 policy recommendations made it into The View From Here 2015 which was launched in January 2015.
Make Poverty History Manitoba believed it was important for the community to identify a manageable subset of prioritized recommendations that the coalition could take action around in order to build political and public support for their implementation.
Participants at the March 10 event listened to a presentation of all the recommendations in The View From Here 2015. They had an opportunity to ask questions before picking the five recommendations that they believed would have the biggest impact when it comes to reducing poverty.
The policies that received the top votes were:
1) Immediately establish through legislation an EIA Rate Review Committee consisting of government and community representatives. Immediately implement a transparent mechanism for redefining basic needs in EIA legislation and for setting, reviewing, and annually updating EIA rates that are based on the actual cost of purchasing those basic needs.
2) Add 12,000 new licensed and funded not for profit child care spaces while also investing resources to ensure existing spaces are sufficiently funded. Operating funding should be sufficient to fairly compensate and retain Early Childhood Educators and to enable the delivery of sustainable community-based and culturally-relevant early learning and child care programming for families in high socio-economic needs areas.
3) Implement the recommendations in The Legacy of Phoenix Sinclair: Achieving the Best for All Our Children by Hon. Ted Hughes to improve the child welfare system and address the underlying issues of poverty that can lead to contact with the child welfare system.
4) Immediately increase Rent Assist’s maximum benefit to 75 percent of Median Market Rent for people on and off Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) without cutting other income-related benefits, and index the benefit to annual increases in the Median Market Rent.
Participants then broke into groups to discuss two questions:
1. What actions could Make Poverty History Manitoba take in the coming year to encourage the province to implement these priority recommendations?
2. What actions could Make Poverty History Manitoba take to encourage provincial political parties to integrate our priority recommendations into their platforms during the provincial election campaign?
Make Poverty History Manitoba met on March 11 and established a working group which will propose an action plan that the coalition can move forward with to build political and public support for the prioritized recommendations as we approach the next provincial election.