New polling on support for poverty reduction

Nearly 60 percent want province to spend to lift all Manitobans above the poverty line

WINNIPEG, MB – As the Province prepares to release its comprehensive poverty reduction strategy, new polling shows solid public support for increased provincial government funding to lift all Manitobans above the poverty line. Nearly three-in five Manitobans support spending $670 million more to accomplish this goal.

Probe Research conducted the polling on behalf of Make Poverty History Manitoba, surveying 1000 adults between March 12 and 29, 2018. Respondents were asked if they support or oppose the provincial government providing increased income assistance to raise all Manitobans above the poverty line. 59 percent either strongly or moderately supported the idea, compared with 36 percent who strongly or moderately opposed the plan.

“These poll results show that Manitobans expect action from the provincial government,” said Michael Barkman, chair of Make Poverty History Manitoba. “Nearly 150,000 Manitobans are socially excluded through poverty. Increasingly, Manitobans recognize that we are failing when people in Manitoba don’t have enough money to afford basic necessities.”

Earlier this year, Make Poverty History Manitoba, in partnership with Basic Income Manitoba, initiated a campaign calling for a new Livable Basic Needs Benefit that would lift all Manitobans to the poverty line. This policy recommendation was submitted for inclusion in the province’s new poverty reduction plan, slated for release this year. The benefit should be part of a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy including affordable housing, mental health care, childcare, and $15.53 minimum wage. It would cost $670 million to the raise the incomes of all Manitobans to the poverty line.

Within the polling, there was less consensus on how poverty reduction should be funded. Manitobans in favour of the provincial government taking action to reduce poverty were supportive of re-allocating spending from other areas; a select number favoured a tax increase or deficit spending.  When asked how much in increased taxes they would personally be willing to pay, 40% of Manitobans would willingly pay an extra $50 or more in taxes, and 22% would spend $200 or more. As well, 32% of Manitobans, mostly comprised of those living in low-income households, stated they could not afford any new taxes. The tax revenue collected to pay to address poverty should be progressive: based on people’s incomes. The poll did not examine support for other means to pay for addressing poverty, such as closing tax loopholes or corporate tax.

“Clearly, there is a strong desire for immediate action on poverty reduction from the provincial government,” continued Barkman, “We must also have a conversation as a province about how resources are distributed across society to ensure no Manitoban lives below the poverty line. We know that implementing a Livable Basic Needs Benefit would see cost savings in multiple areas like health, justice, and Child & Family Services, and allow greater access to education and employment. Manitobans are demanding the provincial government show leadership.”

Make Poverty History Manitoba is a coalition of groups and individuals working to end poverty in Manitoba.

Download report: Probe-MPHM Report FINAL

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