Make Poverty History Manitoba members consulted a broad cross-section of Manitobans, over four years, on what they considered the most important issues relating to poverty. Two of our participating organizations, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives–Manitoba and Canadian Community Economic Development Network–Manitoba gathered the ideas and recommendations from the consultation and incorporated them into a report providing an effective poverty reduction plan for the Province of Manitoba. The report, The View From Here (2015), includes 49 policy recommendations that are expected to have the broadest impact on poverty reduction in Manitoba. It was endorsed by 95 organizations, a full list of which can be found within the report.
Our policy recommendations focus on nine key areas: housing, income security, education, neighbourhood and community approaches, food, transportation, disability supports, health and child welfare.
Ensure that accessible, safe, and affordable housing is available to all Manitobans.
1-1.A. Beginning in 2016, increase the supply of non-profit, rent-geared-to-income (RGI) housing by a minimum of 300 newly built units each year for five years. Priority should be given to new builds in the North and in high–need urban centres. A portion of new units should be dedicated to larger families requiring three bedrooms or more.
1-1.B. Pro-actively work with housing providers and invest to ensuring that there is no net loss of rent-geared-to-income (RGI) housing units due to expiring federal operating agreements.
1-2. Immediately increase Rent Assist’s maximum benefit to 75% of Median Market Rent for people on and off EIA without cutting other income-related benefits, and index the benefit to annual increases in the Median Market Rent.
1-3. Ensure all Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation tenants have access to resource centres that receive sufficient and stable funding to cover basic costs (e.g. space and core staffing) by 2020.
1-4. Invest at least $118 million annually between 2014/15 and 2019/20 to meet the need for capital repairs and maintenance in public housing units.
2. INCOME SECURITY
Ensure that all Manitobans receive a sufficient income to meet their basic needs and participate fully in community life.
EMPLOYMENT AND INCOME ASSISTANCE
2-1. Immediately establish through legislation an EIA Rate Review Committee consisting of government and community representatives.
2-2.A. Immediately implement a transparent mechanism for redefining basic needs in EIA legislation and for setting, reviewing, and annually updating EIA rates that are based on the actual cost of purchasing those basic needs.
2-2B. Increase EIA rates for all categories to the rates set in 2-2.A within two years and annually review and update rates to ensure they don’t fall behind increases in the cost of living.
2-3. Establish a separate pension-like basic income support program for Manitobans with severe and prolonged disability.
2-4. Provide immediate funding for the initial set up and operating costs of a Labour Market Intermediary in Winnipeg and in the North to be designed and delivered with Aboriginal community organizations to improve labour market outcomes for multi-barriered Aboriginal job seekers.
2-5. Commit resources to ensure the Manitoba Social Enterprise Strategy is fully implemented by 2020 in order to create more jobs for people with barriers to employment.
2-6. Include and achieve targeted training and hiring of groups identified in the Province of Manitoba’s Employment Equity Policy for all infrastructure projects that are supported by public funds.
2-7. Address the barriers immigrants face when getting their qualifications recognized in Manitoba.
2-8. Adjust government-wide benchmarks for representation of employment equity groups in Manitoba’s Employment Equity Policy to reflect changes in population and labour force data and set a goal to meet adjusted benchmarks within the civil service and publicly owned institutions by 2020. Priority should be given to achieving benchmarks within management positions.
2-9. Incrementally increase the minimum wage per hour to the Low-Income Cut Off – Before Tax (LICO-BT) for a one parent, one child household by 2020, and index annually to the LICO-BT.
2-10. Within two years, introduce living wage legislation to ensure that all Manitoba government employees are paid a living wageand that the evaluation criteria for all requests for proposals take into account whether or not employees are paid a living wage.
EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS AND LEGISLATION
2-11. Immediately increase the protection of all workers from unfair labour practices.
2.12. Immediately improve the Employment Standards Code to better protect vulnerable workers and introduce stronger measures to proactively monitor and enforce the Code.
Ensure that all Manitobans have access to quality educational programs through which they can develop the skills and knowledge that is required to gain meaningful employment and participate in society as informed citizens.
EARLY LEARNING AND CHILDCARE
3-1.A. Add 12,000 new licensed and funded not for profit childcare spaces while also investing resources to ensure existing spaces are sufficiently funded. Operating funding should be sufficient to fairly compensate and retain Early Childhood Educators and to enable the delivery of sustainable community-based and culturally-relevant early learning and childcare programming for families in high socio-economic needs areas.
3-1.B. Invest in initiatives to recruit and train enough early childhood educators to meet the legislated requirements for proportion of trained staff in the 12,000 new spaces.
3-2. Immediately eliminate the $2.00 daily childcare fee and increase the income level at which families are eligible for a full fee subsidy, with annual indexing to ensure families don’t unfairly lose out on subsidies in the future.
3-3. Establish 30 community-based Aboriginal head start programs in and around high-needs schools across Manitoba by 2020.
KINDERGARTEN TO GRADE TWELVE
3-4. Review operational funding to school divisions – and in particular the ratio of direct provincial funding to locally levied property taxes for schools – with an eye toward reducing inequities in education programs and services among school divisions.
3-5. Establish and provide multi-year funding for five community school cluster sites by 2020 to provide vulnerable student populations with a continuity of access to the in-school delivery of coordinated services and programs as they transition through kindergarten to grade 12.
3-6. Establish and provide funding by 2020 for 30 parent-child centres in community schools across Manitoba as part of efforts to coordinate services and programs through the community schools approach.
3-7. Support existing and new mentorship programs that include recreational elements for children and youth (e.g. arts, music, sports).
3-8. Immediately establish a timeline for transitioning provincial student loans into provincial student grants.
3-9. Increase the minimum annual living allowance of Manitoba Student Aid to the Low-Income Cut Off – After Tax.
3-10. Eliminate full-time status criteria as an eligibility requirement for Manitoba Student Aid loans and bursaries.
3-11. Increase funding to ensure Manitoba’s ACCESS programs can meet the needs the growing Aboriginal student body in Manitoba.
3-12. Provide financial incentives to post-secondary education institutions to encourage the delivery of courses off-campus and in low-income neighbourhoods and communities throughout the province.
ADULT LEARNING AND TRAINING
3-13. Provide immediate support to community-based employment development organizations to deliver services to self-referred clients who wish to proceed through the province’s ‘sustainable employment pathway.’
3-14. Immediately extend employment and income assistance supports to all participants who wish to pursue education and training programs, including university and other post-secondary programs that are up to four years in duration, depending on the participant’s learning objectives.
3-15. Increase funding levels to existing adult literacy and learning centres and ensure all low-income neighbourhoods and public housing complexes have access to community-based and culturally-appropriate adult literacy and learning centres with onsite childcare services.
3-16. Support comprehensive models of education by investing in hubs consisting of educational programs, student housing, and childcare facilities that are influenced by the cultural values of the population served.
Ensure that community-based organizations are sufficiently funded to effectively respond to the needs of the communities they serve.
4-1. Provide community-based organizations with adequate, flexible, and long-term funding (3-5 years) that enables the delivery of programming that is high quality, holistic, and responsive to changing community needs.
4-2. Increase financial support to Neighbourhoods Alive! to allow neighbourhood renewal corporations to scale up their community revitalization activities.
4-3. Provide adequate and dedicated funding to Aboriginal-led organizations and organizations working with Aboriginal people for the delivery of programming that integrates decolonization methods.
5. FOOD SECURITY
Ensure that all Manitobans can access healthy, safe, and affordable food.
5-1. Develop an adequately funded and nutritionally sound provincial school nourishment program that is available to all schools in need by 2020.
5-2. Immediately establish a Food Security Action Fund to provide grants that support food security initiatives across Manitoba.
5-3. Provide immediate funding to train and employ local community food coordinators who live in Northern Manitoba communities.
Ensure that accessible and affordable public transportation is available to all Manitobans.
6-1. Provide municipalities with adequate and targeted funding to ensure public transportation is affordable and accessible to all citizens.
7. DISABILITY SUPPORTS
Ensure that all persons with disabilities in Manitoba achieve full inclusion in the social cultural, political and economic spheres of society.
7-1. Develop and implement clear, progressive, mandatory and date-specific standards in all major areas related to accessibility that will apply to public and private sectors, accompanied by a timely and effective process for monitoring and enforcing the standards.
7-2. Ensure a seamless and lifelong continuum of support services for persons with disabilities.
Ensure that publicly funded physical and mental health services are accessible to all Manitobans.
8-1. Continue to provide health services through a publicly-administered, single-payer, non-profit delivery system to ensure equal access for all Manitobans.
8-2. Ensure primary mental health services are a fundamental component of a comprehensive health system by increasing the proportion of the health budget that is allocated to expenditures on mental health and by expanding the types of mental health services covered by the public healthcare system.
8-3. Ensure youth have access to initiatives that promote mental health as well as services that prevent and address mental illness.
8-4. Extend dental and vision care benefits to all low-income people using an income-based graduated scale which augments benefits for those receiving EIA supports.
8-5. Immediately adopt an explicit goal to reduce health inequities, develop measures to track the progress of key indicators, and ensure that an equity-focused health impact assessment is implemented across government departments.
9. CHILD WELFARE
Ensure child safety and the best possible outcomes for all Manitoba children.
9-1. Implement the recommendations in The Legacy of Phoenix Sinclair: Achieving the Best for All Our Children by Hon. Ted Hughes to improve the child welfare system and address the underlying issues of poverty that can lead to contact with the child welfare system.