A poverty reduction budget for Manitoba

The provincial government has responded to your calls to invest in housing in Budget 2015! MPHM partnered with Right to Housing on a campaign focused on two requests to the provincial government. The Province responded positively on both:

  1. Budget 2015 commits to fully implementing Rent Assist this year – that means Manitobans on Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) who live in private rental housing will receive a shelter benefit that is equal to 75% of median market rent (MMR) beginning in December 2015. See the table below for exact dollar amounts.Low-income Manitobans who are not on EIA may also be eligible to receive a shelter benefit through Rent Assist that is as high as 75% of MMR.
  2. Budget 2015 also allocates an additional $10 million for Manitoba Housing and Community Development. This budget will be sufficient to fund existing commitments to increase the housing supply without reducing other important housing initiatives.

 Rent Assist rates for sample households – December 2015 (75% of MMR)

Two Adults – General Assistance – Two Children (Ages 4 and 6): $742
Single Parent – Two Children (Ages 10 and 13): $742
Single Adult – General Assistance: $513
Single Adult with a Disability: $513

The View From Here in Budget 2015

More than 95 organizations from across Manitoba, including Make Poverty History Manitoba, endorsed the 50 policy recommendations in The View from Here – a comprehensive community-based poverty reduction plan for Manitoba. Premier Greg Selinger has expressed his support for many of its recommendations. Budget 2015 includes many initiatives that directly respond to the recommendations in the plan:

1.       93 new social housing units and 214 new affordable housing as part of existing commitment to build 500 units of each between 2013 and 2016.
2.      $100 million in housing restoration and redevelopment and $34 million in maintenance and repairs to the existing stock each year between 2013 and 2016.
3.      Exploring possibilities for a pension type income support program for low-income people with a severe and prolonged disability
4.      Work with community to move forward an Aboriginal community-based Labour Market Intermediary
5.      $250,000 annually for three years to begin implementation of the Manitoba Social Enterprise Strategy
6.      Leveraging major infrastructure projects into opportunities to train Manitobans facing barriers to employment
7.      Doubling funding (to $120,000) to programming that helps more newcomers get their credentials recognized and get better jobs
8.      Increasing minimum wage to $11 per hour
9.      900 newly funded childcare spaces and higher wages for the child care workforce
10.   $160,00 to support two new parent-child programs in high-need communities
11.    Full-time wrap around literacy model focused on the needs of social assistance participants and funding increases to expand the reach of existing adult literacy program providers
12.   Expanding Manitoba’s Non-Profit Organizations Strategy to include more provincially-funded non-profits who will access multi-year, multi-departmental funding agreements
13.   $500,000 to help increase the capacity and development of successful Aboriginal-led organizations working with families in need
14.   $200,000 increase to expand existing and support the development of new school nutrition programs for children who need it most
15.   $2 million for a Child and Youth Mental Health Strategy
16.   Extending the Rewarding Work Health Plan which provides drug, dental, and optical coverage for up to two years to people leaving EIA for employment and training

This is an impressive start! There is still a long ways to go to reach many of the targets that are set out in the report and eliminating poverty in Manitoba. As Sid Frankel argues, targets and timelines for ending poverty are still needed.

Your actions and support have made a tremendous difference in pushing the provincial government to make strides towards eliminating poverty in Manitoba. Make Poverty History Manitoba will continue to work with the provincial government toward the implementation of the recommendations in this community-based poverty reduction plan.

Other analysis at:

Social Planning Council of Winnipeg
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
CUPE Manitoba

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