Finance minister gets used shoes for budget day

More than 200 people attended a rally last Thursday asking Finance Minister Greg Dewar and his colleagues to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes as they prepare Budget 2015. As a reminder of the more than 100,000 Manitobans living in poverty, community member Andrew Allary presented the finance minister with a pair of used size 12 dress shoes to wear on budget day April 30. Traditionally, finance ministers in Canada buy new shoes for budget day. Organizers hope that the concerns of Manitobans living in poverty will be addressed in this year’s budget.

Dewar and Andrew

View slide show of photos from the rally

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. Anti-poverty organizers have been asking for EIA shelter benefits to be increased to reflect the high cost of rent in Manitoba for several years.

“When I look out here, I think I saw you here last year… We are in this for the long haul, we have been here for a while and we are going somewhere,” said Lynda Trono, chair with Make Poverty History Manitoba.

MPHM rally April15 (7)

Last year the provincial government provided some relief by increasing Rent Assist by $50 to $70 per month. However, further increases of between $150 and $350 are needed to bring recipients up to 75 percent of median market rent.

Rent Assist Chart

Kirsten Bernas, spokesperson for Make Poverty History Manitoba called on the province to address the affordability gap that people on EIA face when renting in the private market. “People living in poverty today cannot wait another three years to get the assistance they need to afford a decent place to live and secure the stability they need in their lives to move forward.”

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.

Dewar accepted the shoes and promised poverty reduction measures in budget: “I am very optimistic that you will be happy with what you will see.” Make Poverty History Manitoba offer its analysis of the budget once it is released.

Our Budget requests:

  1. Increase the housing budget by $30 million to adequately fund existing commitments to increase supply without reducing other important housing initiatives including the existing social housing stock.
  2. Increase the maximum Rent Assist benefit level to equal 75% of median market rent.

The rally was 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.

Some media coverage of the rally:

Winnipeg Free Press Groups push NDP to make fighting poverty a budget priority

Ici Radio-Canada: en semaine “Table ronde: Est-il possible d’éliminer la pauvreté au Manitoba?

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