Make Poverty History Manitoba (MPHM) and Basic Income Manitoba are launching a campaign calling on the provincial government to introduce a new Livable Basic Needs Benefit, replacing the existing Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) benefit. The new benefit, which should be part of a comprehensive plan to address poverty, should be set at a level to cover the actual cost of basic needs such as food, clothing, communications and transportation. The proposed benefit would be sufficient, when combined with other federal and provincial income supports, to lift all Manitobans to at least the poverty line.
“While 146 000 Manitobans live below the market basket measure poverty line, the EIA basic needs budget has barely increased in two decades,” explained Josh Brandon, chair of Make Poverty History Manitoba, “EIA incomes are so low that people are living in an ongoing state of crisis, making it impossible to pursue training and jobs leading to financial independence.”
Currently, the provincial government is undertaking a consultation process for a long-awaited poverty reduction plan. These consultations continue until February 23. In their recommendations, MPHM and Basic Income Manitoba call on the Province to ensure all Manitobans have a total income at least equal to the poverty line as part of a comprehensive plan.
This can be achieved by replacing the part of EIA meant to cover non-rent basic needs with a new, Livable Basic Needs Benefit for which all low-income Manitobans would be eligible, regardless of whether they receive other benefits through EIA. The proposed benefit would include some elements of a basic income including setting income supports at a livable level and making them universal for all low income Manitobans. The proposed Livable Basic Needs Benefit would not replace Rent Assist or other EIA benefits such as disability or employment training supports.
“Right now, all families on EIA are hundreds of dollars below the market basket measure of poverty,” said Basic Income spokesperson, Lorna Turnbull. “The livable basic needs benefit would allow these families to stand on their feet and make choices to meet their needs with dignity. The elimination of the welfare wall will support that dignity and inclusion.”
Make Poverty History Manitoba is a coalition of groups and individuals committed to changing public policy to achieve a Manitoba without poverty.
Basic Income Manitoba is a volunteer-run organization, envisioning a society in which each individual lives with sufficient income for basic needs, health and social participation.
For more information, see our background document: A Poverty Reduction Plan for Manitoba