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 chair@makepovertyhistorymb.com 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 winnipegvitalsigns.org

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 winnipegwithoutpoverty.ca

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 knowpoverty.ca.

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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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Winnipeg Without Poverty: Calling on the City to Lead

Report Launch – Winnipeg Without Poverty: Calling on the City to Lead

Who: Make Poverty History Manitoba
What: Launch of Winnipeg Without Poverty: Calling on the City to Lead, a community-based poverty reduction plan for Winnipeg
Where: Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre, 430 Langside Street, Winnipeg
When: Wednesday, May 2, 9:30 am to 11:00 am

Media Release – New report calls on Mayor to take the lead in efforts to reduce poverty.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE [May 2, 2018]: Make Poverty History Manitoba will launch its city poverty reduction plan Winnipeg Without Poverty: Calling on the City to Lead at a community event May 2nd 2018 at MERC 430 Langside St at 10am.

This report, endorsed by more than 90 organizations, calls on Winnipeg’s Mayor to be a champion for poverty reduction and commit to leading the development of a comprehensive poverty reduction plan. Up to 107,000 Winnipeggers are living in poverty.

The community-based plan offers fifty recommendations that the City can implement as part of its own plan in policy areas such as housing, transportation, food security, policing and safety.

“Our Mayor has spoken out publicly in support of reconciliation and has embarked the City of Winnipeg upon a ‘Journey of Reconciliation’, said Lorie English, chair of Make Poverty History Manitoba’s city working group. “However, the Mayor has not yet fully acknowledged the link between reconciliation and poverty reduction.”

Indigenous people are over-represented in poverty-related statistics. The poverty rate among Indigenous Winnipeggers is 35% compared to 14% of non-Indigenous Winnipeggers. Reconciliation will require closing the gap in social and economic outcomes that exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. The City can do its part by implementing a comprehensive poverty reduction plan with progress indicators that have targets and timelines as a key piece of its “Journey of Reconciliation.”

To date, the City’s poverty reduction initiatives have been implemented on an ad hoc basis, rather than through a strategic plan that guides priorities and planning. The report reviews poverty reduction efforts in other Canadian cities and concludes that Winnipeg is lagging far behind places like Calgary and Edmonton, which both have comprehensive plans. The report also concludes that the most successful municipal plans are those that are championed by the Mayor. Hence, today’s call to action.

As we head toward the next municipal election in October 2018, Make Poverty History Manitoba will lead Winnipeggers in a campaign calling on our next Mayor to be a champion for poverty reduction and commit to developing a comprehensive plan.

Combating poverty in Winnipeg will require the coordinated efforts of all levels of government. While the report’s recommendations focus on actions to be taken by the City, it is not intended to absolve other levels of governments from responsibility. The report calls on the City to be held primarily accountable for the success of its own plan, while advocating to other levels of government to do their part.

This community-based poverty reduction plan for Winnipeg consists of 50 policy recommendations that the City of Winnipeg can implement. The plan has been endorsed by more than 90 organizations from across the city.


If you would like to add your organization’s name to the list of endorsers, please contact chair@makepovertyhistorymb.com
Download and share our poster:

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Manitoba anti-poverty coalition calls for action to end poverty, not limit Charter rights

Make Poverty History Manitoba (MPHM) is deeply concerned about the potential impact of Bill 24, the Social Services Appeal Board Amendment Act, on access to justice for low-income and vulnerable Manitobans, and instead calls on the provincial government to take comprehensive action to eliminate poverty in Manitoba.

Bill 24 effectively limits the scope of analysis of the Social Services Appeal Board, which oversees appeal cases of Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) recipients, to preclude hearing any arguments utilizing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“The MPHM coalition strongly believes that Manitoba’s most vulnerable people should be able to access Charter rights when in front of the Social Services Appeal Board,” said Make Poverty History Interim Chairperson Michael Barkman, “The Charter belongs to all Canadians, and this bill would be a clawback of the rights of low-income Manitobans.”

The Social Services Appeal Board is an administrative tribunal that is charged with interpreting and considering the law, and as determined by the Stadler case in 2017, it has jurisdiction and an obligation to consider Charter issues. MPHM urges the government to consult further with impacted communities on this bill until it is heard again in November 2018 in the Legislature.

At a time when EIA recipients’ Charter rights are potentially being severely limited, 146 000 Manitobans continue to live below the market basket measure poverty line (1). MPHM renews its call for a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy with targets and timelines, as well as comprehensive amendments to the EIA benefit, introducing a new Livable Basic Needs Benefit (2).

“The provincial government should take comprehensive action on eliminating poverty in Manitoba by introducing a new Livable Basic Needs Benefit, as proposed by MPHM, instead of proposing legislation that challenges EIA recipients’ access to justice,” said Barkman.

Make Poverty History Manitoba is a coalition of groups and individuals committed to changing public policy to achieve a Manitoba without poverty.

Michael Barkman, Interim Chair, Make Poverty History Manitoba

Note: There will be a special discussion of Bill 24 at Make Poverty History Manitoba’s general membership meeting, May 9 at 12 pm with Joëlle Pastora Sala, lawyer with Public Interest Law Centre. West End Cultural Centre, 586 Ellice Avenue.

(1) Statistics Canada’s Market Basket Measure (2015).
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