City hall can help jobless

While election cycles bring some community challenges to the spotlight, the work creating solutions to these complex challenges is ongoing. Winnipeg’s inner-city neighbourhoods have been quietly transforming — creating employment, reducing poverty, reversing neighbourhood decline and preventing crime.

The Merchants Corner will offer education and housing where a notorious hotel once stood; the Social Enterprise Centre is providing training and jobs to communities while improving housing stock; Neechi Commons is bringing fresh food where no other grocery store stands, along with stable and local jobs.

Community organizations have been the driver of these success stories, but they thrive with supportive governments that move the policy levers and resources at their disposal.

The Province of Manitoba has taken significant steps to work with our communities. The City of Winnipeg has not.

- Excerpt from Winnipeg Free Press Sept. 8th editorial by Kirsten Bernas and Darcy Penner of the Canadian Community Economic Development Network

View the complete editorial.

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A vote for austerity is a vote for more suffering

Lorrie Steeve’s distasteful comments about Aboriginal panhandlers set off a series of responses that reflected badly on many Winnipeggers. The following week’s big story was the murder of Tina Fontaine and the suicide of Faron Hall. There followed a seemingly unrelated Free Press op ed about climate change, and another breaking story about Manitoba’s and Winnipeg’s credit rating. Continue reading

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18 Prominent Manitobans Fail the Canada Challenge

The ancestors of 18 prominent Manitobans would all be turned away if they applied today to immigrate to Canada.  That was the finding of the first Manitobans to take The Canada Challenge, a quiz that all Canadians were invited to take as they walked through Osborne Village on Canada Day 2014. Continue reading

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Justice Requires Hope

By John Hutton



Sunday, August 10th, marked the 40th anniversary of what has come to be known as Prisoners’ Justice Day in Canada. Ever since the suicide of Edward Nolan in a segregation cell at Milhaven Institution on this date back in 1974, Canadians have held a vigil to remember all who have died while incarcerated. Many prisoners fast and decline to work on that day while those outside the prison walls renew the call for changes to the correctional system. Continue reading

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Winnipeg mayoral debate on environmental issues

Winnipeg’s all-candidates mayoral forum on the environment will take place September 30th at the First Unitarian-Universalist Church (603 Wellington Crescent). The forum will give voters the opportunity to hear how candidates would address major environmental challenges facing Winnipeg including mitigating climate change, protecting green space, reducing waste and containing urban sprawl.

The forum is sponsored by Green Action Centre, Manitoba Eco-Network, the Green Action Committee of the First Unitarian Universalist Church and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Richard Cloutier, News Director at CJOB 680 will moderate.

Mayoral environment debate

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Province introduces online calculator for low-income renters

By Josh Brandon

Photo: Wikipedia

If you are a renter in Manitoba paying more than 25 percent of your income in rent, you may be eligible for a benefit of between $20 and $270 per month, thanks to recent changes to a provincial program called Rent Assist.

The Province has just introduced an online calculator on which low-income renters may determine how much of a Rent Assist benefit they are entitled to receive. Starting July 1, 2014, this program provides a benefit up to $270 dollars per month. It replaces an earlier program called RentAid that provided a maximum benefit of up to $230.

The changes in the program were introduced in parallel with recent increases to the Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) shelter benefit.

Aside from the increase in assistance available, this program expands coverage, including adults with no kids and without a disability for the first time. Families with kids, adults with disabilities and seniors are also eligible. Households in Manitoba Housing or receiving EIA are not eligible.

The amount of the benefit depends on family size, income and rent costs. For a family of four, the benefit cuts off with an annual income of $34,223, while for individuals, benefits cut off at $24,287.

For the working poor, rising rents in Manitoba have been a significant drain on household budgets.  This new benefit program can help offset those costs.

To find out if you are eligible go online at:


Further information about the Rent Assist program is available on the government of Manitoba’s website:

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Beer Bottles to Books: Remaking Merchants Corner

By Jim Silver

Merchants Hotel; Photo: North End Community Renewal Corporation

Photo: North End Community Renewal Corporation

Young North End activists hailed it as the latest example of “North End Rising.” That was the response when Premier Selinger announced on June 24 that the Provincial Government is investing more than $9 million in the redevelopment of the old Merchants Hotel and six adjoining lots on Selkirk and Pritchard Avenues. At the heart of what will be called Merchants Corner is an innovative educational strategy, prompting Minister of Children and Youth Opportunities, Kevin Chief, to use the phrase “beer bottles to books.” Whatever slogan is used, this is an exciting initiative. Continue reading

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Filed under Aboriginal issues, activism, education, housing, Inner City