Make Poverty History responds to 2019 City of Winnipeg Budget

Make Poverty History responds to 2019 City of Winnipeg Budget

We congratulate the City of Winnipeg for initiating a Low Income Bus Pass program in the 2019 Budget, beginning on April 1, 2020. Affordable public transit is foundational to building a socially equitable community and very important for many key aspects of life such as getting to medical appointments, training, work, doing errands and maintaining relationships with family and friends.

Last year, Make Poverty History Manitoba published Winnipeg Without Poverty: Calling on the City to Lead, the community’s call to action for the city to develop and implement a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy.  Our community vision is for the City of Winnipeg to take a strategic approach to reducing poverty through identifying city-wide poverty reduction goals and creating an action plan to achieve them. This included key recommendations around policing/safety, reconciliation, housing, health, recreation, and more. We look forward to continuing to work with the City of Winnipeg toward these goals and innovative ideas for poverty reduction in Winnipeg.

“Within our report, we examined the best practices of poverty reduction strategies in other communities across Canada.  Among many recommendations, we identified a low-income bus pass as a key piece of an overall Winnipeg poverty reduction strategy,” said Michael Barkman, Chairperson for Make Poverty History Manitoba, “Our members are pleased to see this important step forward from the City of Winnipeg to help low income Winnipeggers access transportation, while also seeing a freeze in transit fares for this year.”

The Low-Income Bus Pass will be implemented over three years, starting with a 30 percent discount on April 1, 2020, a 40 percent discount in 2021, and a 50 percent discount in 2022. As of now, the program will include eligible adults, but we encourage the City to include a 50% off regular youth pass and a 50% off single ride rate (bus ticket), while also committing to freezing transit fares in future years.

“It takes leadership to adopt a program such as this, and we look forward to collaborating with the city over the next year in the implementation of this project,” continued Barkman, “But, we know that even a 50% discount is not enough to best meet the needs of all low-income Winnipeggers.”

The best practice identified in research such as the 2018 State of the Inner City Report: Green Light Go: Improving Transportation Equity from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – MB, is a sliding scale bus pass, based on ability to pay. Calgary, as a result of support from the province, moved to a sliding scale subsidy as high as 95% for low income residents. We urge the Province of Manitoba to partner with the City of Winnipeg and invest the necessary financial resources to implement a sliding scale bus pass in Winnipeg so that no one is left behind due to lack of ability to afford transit.

Budget 2019 City of Winnipeg Press release (2)


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Watch Our New Video for Winnipeg Without Poverty!

Thanks to supporters, volunteers, and endorsing organizations, our campaign for a Winnipeg Without Poverty has put poverty on the City of Winnipeg’s agenda.

The City has taken some very crucial steps toward poverty reduction – City Council will soon vote on a report written by the city’s public service on what the City of Winnipeg is doing to reduce poverty and what more it could do. We know that this report is already making a difference and we can’t stop here!

We need to show City Council and the Mayor that there is strong community support for a second phase of this report that includes city-wide poverty reduction goals and an action plan to achieve them. This is an exciting time for Winnipeg.

Working together, we can make poverty history.


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Make Poverty History in Winnipeg & Manitoba: Fundraising Concert

Make Poverty History | 3rd Annual Fundraiser

Join together to harness the power of music to help drive social change, raise awareness about poverty, and make it history.

All proceeds go to support the work of Make Poverty History Manitoba, which works towards a Winnipeg and Manitoba without poverty through public education and advocating policy change.

Headliner: Sweet Alibi
Songwriters Circle featuring: Jaxon Haldane; Tuva Bergstrom; Nick Parenteau
MC: Michael Redhead Champagne

Doors at 7:15pm
Show at 8:00pm

Tickets $20 Advance/At Door
Tickets at, West End Cultural Centre (586 Ellie Ave.) or at Social Planning Council of Winnipeg (432 Ellice Ave.).

Facebook Event here!

Low-Income and want a ticket? Contact Social Planning Council of Winnipeg at (204) 943-2561 or at 432 Ellice Avenue.

Great prizes and packages will be raffled!
Interested in donating a prize? Contact

We are a volunteer-run coalition. Funds raised in past years have helped to contribute to advocacy, research, events, rallies, and campaigns. Our coalition has successfully raised awareness about the serious issues of poverty that affect over 100,000 people in Manitoba.

Thanks to supporters, we have advocated for a provincial poverty reduction plan, a livable basic needs benefit, housing, childcare, mental health supports, a $15 minimum wage, and more. As well, last year’s funds raised helped support the Winnipeg Without Poverty campaign, calling for a comprehensive City of Winnipeg poverty plan.

Join us as we celebrate the successes of our community coming together, and look toward building our movement for change.


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Low-Income Bus Pass: Community Perspective

The City of Winnipeg is considering adopting a Low-Income Bus Pass in this year’s budget. This is a great step in the right direction, and one of the recommendations that the Make Poverty History Manitoba coalition called for in our Winnipeg Without Poverty report.winnipeg transit

Affordable transit is foundational to building a socially equitable community, as well as for achieving our city’s environmental obligations. A low-income bus pass will play an essential role in making transit more affordable for everyone, as well as serving as a crucial part of the City of Winnipeg’s role in reducing poverty.

Last year, Make Poverty History Manitoba published Winnipeg Without Poverty: Calling on the City to Lead, the community’s call to action for the city to develop and implement a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy.  Our community vision is for the City of Winnipeg to take a strategic approach to reducing poverty by identifying realistic goals to help guide decision making, as well as considering all city policies through the lens of how they impact those in poverty and the most vulnerable in our community.

Within this report, we examined the best practices of poverty reduction strategies in other communities across Canada. A low-income bus pass was a key, game-changing idea within an overall poverty reduction strategy that we included in our report. Naturally, our members were excited to see this proposal being seriously considered by the City of Winnipeg with broad support from the general public.

We support the implementation of a sliding scale low income bus pass program, fully integrated with the Transit Plus program. We also support reduced general fares and improved service across the city.

Please read our letter that was sent to Winnipeg’s Mayor and City Councillors outlining our position on the Low-Income Bus Pass:

Low-Income Bus Pass_ Community Perspective

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Make Poverty History Manitoba contributes to Provincial Budget Consultation

The Province of Manitoba offers the opportunity for Manitobans to send in ideas for each yearly provincial budget. This year, Make Poverty History Manitoba contributed to the 2019 Province of Manitoba budget consultation, Making Choices. Our vision is simple: a Manitoba without poverty. The recommendations in our coalition’s submission are rooted in the priorities of people with lived experience of poverty as well as those who work directly with them. We believe that the six ideas we’ve contributed, based on prioritization within the community, will contribute to greatly reducing poverty.


  1. Develop and implement a comprehensive poverty reduction plan with targets and timelines for reducing poverty. It must be noted that the government is now almost two years late on introducing a renewed poverty reduction plan – contradicting both the law and their own campaign promise.
  2. Minimum Wage:  Incrementally raise the minimum wage to a poverty line wage of $15.53 per hour.
  3. Social Housing: Build at least 300 net new social housing units annually for five years.
  4. Income Benefits: Introduce a new livable basic needs benefit to lift all Manitobans up to or above the poverty line.
  5. Child Care: Create at least 17,000 licensed and funded, non-profit childcare spaces with priority in low-income neighbourhoods.
  6. Mental Health: Double the funding allotted to community-based mental health services for low-income Manitobans beginning with an increase in mental health spending by 40 per cent over three years with priority given to community-based mental health services.

Read the entire budget submission here!


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Celebrating Our Community Campaign Success!

It’s been just over a month since Winnipeg’s municipal election. Thank you to everyone who was involved in our campaign for a Winnipeg Without Poverty this past year. From our launch of this important community report on May 2, til election day on October 24 – everyday Winnipeggers involved in the campaign helped get poverty on the agenda in the municipal election. Make Poverty History Manitoba is a coalition of groups and individuals dedicated to a city, and province, without poverty – and runs thanks to the help of so many dedicated advocates and volunteers.

In an election that otherwise may have been about very different issues – our community campaign put poverty on the agenda, and has ensured that action will be taken by the mayor and council in the upcoming City of Winnipeg council term.

It seems like a long time ago, but back in May we launched our community-based poverty reduction plan, Winnipeg Without Poverty, consisting of 50 policy recommendations that the City can implement as part of a comprehensive plan. The plan initially was endorsed by more than 100 organizations and that number only continues to grow. These organizations represent groups working on the frontlines of poverty and toward solutions to end poverty in our city. News coverage of our launch here and here.

The campaign quickly took off! Throughout the next 6 months, thousands of Winnipeggers signed on to our petition calling on the city to lead on poverty reduction. When more and more news stories broke about increasing meth and crime in our city, our campaign was there highlighting the root causes: poverty, social exclusion, trauma, and colonization. Read this editorial to see our response.

Churches, faith groups, and others were quick to send support and endorsements for the campaign, including on their signs and banners. See one example here! More and more organizations sent in their endorsements, while many individuals started volunteering to spread the word. Thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers, we reached thousands of Winnipeggers throughout the summer and fall. At farmers markets, community centres, back-to-school events, and fundraisers – countless conversations about a vision for the city to lead on ending poverty in Winnipeg occurred.

Thanks to a great collaboration with Just TV, we launched a video in September – reaching over 20,000 Winnipeggers. The video highlighted strong community voices, calling for action from candidates in the 2018 Winnipeg election to be advocates for a comprehensive plan. Thanks to all those who participated in the video, and everyone who watched and shared it.

A community rally and march was held in October – with hundreds of Winnipeggers meeting in the courtyard at City Hall to call for action from the city of Winnipeg. Many new faces joined in the march to the Manitoba Legislature, ensuring that no level of government is let off the hook to address poverty in our city and province. Read coverage of our rally and march here and here.

We had great interactions with the many people running for mayor and councillor in the city of Winnipeg. A questionnaire went out to all candidates, with most responding to our survey. We are happy to say that the vast majority of candidates running for mayor and council supported a comprehensive municipal poverty reduction plan.

On October 17, we, along with members of our coalition, including Winnipeg Harvest, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Manitoba, and Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, co-hosted a Mayoral Forum on Poverty & Hunger, attended by 7 of 8 mayoral candidates. During the debate, all candidates were supportive of collaborating with the community on creating a comprehensive plan, including eventual winner Brian Bowman.

Before the election, Daniel McIntyre Councillor Cindy Gilroy proposed a motion for the city to catalogue and make recommendations for poverty reduction within existing budgets. We are hopeful that this motion will serve as a platform for the creation of a municipal poverty reduction plan. The city has already made strides toward one of our recommendations, a low-income bus pass. We are grateful for the excellent collaboration with city administration who are committed to working with community voices, and the connections made already with the new council members. 

Congratulations to Mayor Brian Bowman and all 15 Winnipeg city councillors. We look forward to working with you, and are very excited about the great deal of support that a comprehensive poverty reduction plan has received from our elected officials and Winnipeggers.

Our community coalition for a Winnipeg Without Poverty remains strong and active, and we will continue to advocate for a comprehensive plan for our city.

We still need your support!

  1. Volunteer! Email to get involved
  2. Sign the petition. We must continue to show the depth of support for this plan throughout Winnipeg. You’ll also be able to stay updated with our campaign via email.
  3. Endorse the plan. Join hundreds of organizations, and add your organization’s name to the list of endorsers.  
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Anti-poverty advocates respond to November 2018 provincial Throne Speech

The Speech from the Throne delivered by the Province of Manitoba on November 20, 2018 includes small steps toward addressing the consequences of poverty, but spoke little about real action to address root causes of poverty.  There was little to no mention of the growing addictions and meth crisis rooted in systemic poverty and social exclusion, a rapidly widening gap between the highest and lowest income earners, and child poverty rates that remain abysmal.

“This throne speech does not recommit to a poverty reduction strategy, which is very concerning. We are hopeful that in the upcoming legislative session, the provincial government will get serious about confronting the challenge of poverty in the province of Manitoba,” said Michael Barkman, Chair of Make Poverty History Manitoba, “We need real commitment through a strategy, resources, and budgetary measures in order to lift the nearly 146,000 Manitobans who live below the Market Basket Measure line out of poverty.”

Provincial Poverty Reduction Strategy

The government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy is now a year and a half overdue according to provincial legislation, and we are expecting the government to release it within the next two months. Make Poverty History Manitoba (MPHM) greatly looks forward to the strategy, as government needs to focus resources and services to ending poverty. The Throne Speech ought to have put more emphasis on the need for a comprehensive strategy to end poverty, and we remain uncertain about its release date.

Employment and Income

Social assistance incomes have barely increased in two decades. They are so low that many people end up living in an ongoing state of crisis just to meet their basic needs, which makes it next to impossible to pursue training and jobs that would lead to financial independence. MPHM strongly recommends the government move toward a Livable Basic Needs Benefit that would lift Manitobans up to at least the poverty line. This would eliminate the welfare wall toward meaningful employment for Manitobans who are able to work, while ensuring that those who may not be able to work, including some Manitobans with disabilities, are not condemned to a life of poverty. All on social assistance should have enough benefits to live in dignity.

We commend the government for taking action on linking Manitobans on social assistance who are able to work with meaningful employment.  Government efforts to support people on social assistance to secure employment should be done by breaking down barriers to employment, providing seamless supports and benefits from assistance to work, and continue to be available if a job is lost for whatever reason. Programs must be voluntary and have utility for the participant, otherwise we risk returning to repressive “workfare” programs of the 1990s. Low income people are often doing precarious work (i.e. part time or seasonal). Asking people to find work requires good jobs to be available, but notably this government has no jobs strategy. More work needs to be done to support training, workforce development for people with barriers to the traditional labour market, and social enterprises – all important aspects of linking people on welfare who are able to work to meaningful employment.

To ensure a job is a pathway out of poverty, we need a minimum wage set at a living wage in our province at $15/hour, and commend the work done by $15 and Fairness Manitoba to move Manitoba in the direction of other jurisdictions across North America.


A lack of rent-geared-to-income  and affordable housing remains a serious issue in our province and an ongoing barrier to reducing poverty.  The provincial government must capitalize on the opportunity to bring money from the National Housing Strategy to Manitoba to build more housing. These dollars can be used to respond to our ongoing call for an increase in the supply of non-profit, rent-geared-to-income  housing by a minimum of 300 newly built units annually – the most sustainable housing option for groups the throne speech identified as having unique housing needs.

Mental Health and Addictions

The growing epidemic of meth use and crime is rooted in poverty, social exclusion, trauma, and inadequate  mental health supports for marginalized communities, particularly Indigenous people in Manitoba. It is encouraging to see support within the throne speech for acute mental health and addictions treatment through community-based mental health services but the ongoing lack of treatment beds remains an issue. The government must ensure that investments within the budget are made to support these services within communities, while not at the expense of other key health expenditures.


Childcare is in critical need for families across Manitoba, remaining particularly costly for families with single parents and otherwise marginalized people. Our province needs nearly 17,000 new licensed and funded not-for-profit childcare spaces. Our coalition is concerned about the introduction of a Childcare Centre Tax Credit, as investment is needed right now for more not-for-profit spaces for Manitoban families.

Final Thoughts

The government should endeavour to meet with anti-poverty advocates through the Make Poverty History Manitoba coalition throughout the upcoming legislative session, as well as organizations, families, and individuals impacted by poverty on a daily basis. It is essential that the government be open to considering and evaluating the effects, both positive and negative, that are a result of the policies they implement.  We would be happy to share common concerns, as well as solutions developed by the community through the View From Here 2015.

The Throne Speech conclusion was correct – we must not run from challenges facing our province, we must confront them. Brighter days are ahead, but only if the government takes action on solutions addressing the root causes of social exclusion and poverty in Manitoba. Economic, social, and community development must be for all Manitobans. Poverty is too dire to leave anyone behind.

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

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Your Winnipeg in 2030: Making Poverty History

VS1920x1080The Winnipeg Without Poverty campaign during the municipal election was a great success. What next?

The Winnipeg Foundation, in partnership with Make Poverty History Manitoba, invites you to join a dynamic and interactive Vital Conversation about envisioning a city without poverty.

DATE: Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018
TIME: 7 – 9 p.m., doors at 6:30 p.m.
LOCATION: The Power Corporation Atrium,
University of Winnipeg
Richardson College for the Environment and Science Complex
599 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg

All welcome. RSVP by Wednesday, Nov. 28 to save your seat.
More information or RSVP at

United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal No. 1 is No Poverty by 2030. Ending poverty is no small task. We must recognize poverty is complex, multi-layered, and interconnected. We can be successful when all citizens can see humanity in the face of poverty.

Hear about the progressive actions of End Poverty Edmonton, from its Co-Chair Bishop Jane Alexander. Discover the collaborative efforts of the anti-poverty movement in Winnipeg. Share your ideas about making poverty history.

Bishop Jane Alexander, Co-Chair End Poverty Edmonton

Kirsten Bernas, Make Poverty History Manitoba
Al Wiebe, Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness
Jackie Anderson, Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre



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Candidate Responses

We asked Mayoral Candidates and City Council Candidates four questions on a Winnipeg Without Poverty. Read their answers!

If elected:

1. Will you be a champion for a Winnipeg Without Poverty and commit to leading the development of a comprehensive poverty reduction plan for Winnipeg with progress indicators that have targets and timelines?

2. What specific actions will you take to reduce poverty in Winnipeg via the City of Winnipeg?

3. How will you work with community groups and people with lived experience of poverty?

4. Anything further to add?

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Anti-Poverty Advocates, Community Rally calling for Municipal and Provincial Poverty Reduction Plans

Make Poverty History Manitoba, along with community organizations, members, and people with lived experience of poverty, will be hosting a rally and march on Thursday, October 11th. We are calling on both levels of government, municipal and provincial, to take serious action NOW to end poverty.

All are welcome to attend!


When: Thursday, October 11th, 2018 | 12:00 – 1:30
Where: Media should meet at Winnipeg City Hall (510 Main Street) at 12 Noon
Details: At 12:25, we will march from City Hall to the Manitoba Legislature, where will attend Question Period at 1:30pm.

We support:
-Adoption of Municipal AND Provincial Comprehensive Poverty Reduction Strategies.
-Mayoral and Council Candidates to be Leaders of Poverty Reduction in Winnipeg, in collaboration with community
-Adoption of a provincial Livable Basic Needs Benefit

According to polling by Probe Research in Spring 2018, we know Manitobans support action from our government for poverty reduction. On October 11, we will demonstrate to candidates in the municipal election and provincial MLAs that we need meaningful action now.

Up to 107,000 Winnipeggers live in poverty. Some 39,000 more across Manitoba are living in poverty. Across the entire province, we know that crime, addictions, poor health and social conditions, and other social issues stem from ongoing poverty in our communities.

We need commitments from mayoral candidates to be champions of poverty reduction in this campaign. We have developed Winnipeg Without Poverty: Calling on the City to Lead that serves as a blueprint. Link at

We need the Province of Manitoba to release their poverty reduction plan, now a year and a half overdue, in violation of provincial legislation. We have also released a blueprint for a provincial plan, The View from Here: Manitobans call for a renewed poverty reduction plan. A priority must be overhauling Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) to create a Livable Basic Needs Benefit, detailed at

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