Anti-poverty groups ask finance minister to walk in shoes of people in poverty

Anti-poverty advocates will gather at the steps of the Manitoba Legislature Thursday, April 23 at 12:00 pm to ask Finance Minister Greg Dewar and his colleagues to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes as they prepare Budget 2015.

Following the tradition of the finance minister wearing new shoes for budget day, organizers will present the minister with a pair of used shoes previously worn by a Manitoban living in poverty. The shoes will serve as a reminder to consider the over 100,000 Manitobans who live in poverty and to make poverty fighting measures a priority in next week’s budget.

Make Poverty History Manitoba and Right to Housing are asking the government to increase Rent Assist to 75% of median market rent for Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) recipients in this year’s budget. For a single person on EIA, Rent Assist would be increased by $151.

Rent Assist Chart

“It’s difficult to find an apartment in Winnipeg for under $600, but an individual on EIA only gets $435 for rent. That means they have to take money out of their already meagre food budgets,” said Kirsten Bernas, spokesperson for Make Poverty History Manitoba. “When the Province introduced Rent Assist last year, they committed to achieving the 75% target over four years. But people living in poverty can’t wait another three years, so we are asking the government to complete that commitment this year.”

The event organizers are also asking for Manitoba Housing’s budget to be increased by $30 million to adequately fund existing commitments to increase desperately needed housing supply.

“The Province should be congratulated for completing its commitment to build 1500 units of social housing over the past five years, but to pay the mortgages for these new builds, the housing budget will need to be increased. If there is no increase, there could be cutbacks on social supports and maintenance which are also essential for creating good communities in social housing,” said Clark Brownlee, chair of Right to Housing.

The rally is being organized by Make Poverty History Manitoba and Right to Housing. Make Poverty History Manitoba is coalition of organizations and individuals working to end poverty in Manitoba. The Right to Housing Coalition is a Winnipeg-based group of individuals and organizations from across the province, concerned about the shortage of affordable and social housing in Manitoba.

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