August 31, 2022
For Immediate Release (Winnipeg, Treaty One) – The Manitoba government’s announcement today is insufficient to address the impacts of inflation on Manitoba families.
Families with children: It is regressive for public funds to provide a flat amount for families with a household income of less than $175,000 a year with children. The cost of necessities, such as shelter, food and fuel, make up more than half of the expenditures of poor households (in the lowest income quintile). Comparatively, households that are higher up the income ladder spend less than 30% on such necessities.
Recent price increases cost an average of $200 more each month for families earning less than $30,000 per year. This one-time rebate of $250 for the first child and $200 for other children falls far short of what is required to truly support Manitobans. This rebate cheque will not address Manitoba’s persistently high child poverty rates.
Families without children and single people who are not seniors are omitted from this announcement altogether. Low-income and moderate-income Manitobans without children are also struggling with the high rate of inflation, but they receive no support in today’s announcement.
Seniors: The $300 cheque for low-income seniors is also inadequate given recent price increases. The province announced this benefit is being sent to seniors who claim the Education Property Tax Credit. Low income seniors receiving Rent Assist may not receive this Tax Credit. More information is needed from the province as to if this benefit will flow to all low income seniors.
Single individuals and people with disabilities on social assistance: Even with the announcement of $50 more per month for single individuals and $25 more per month for people with disabilities Employment and Income Assistance (EIA), they remain far below the Market Basket Measure of Poverty, the government’s official poverty line. In Manitoba, Ssingle people in greatest financial need earn far less than the poverty line: only 44% (or $10,079 per year) for single individuals, and 59% (or $13,727 per year) for single people with disabilities (Maytree).
If Manitoba wishes to remediate the impact of inflation on social assistance rates, it should boost rates to at least 75% of the MBM and then tie them to the cost of living as with Rent Assist. The Alternative Provincial Budget 2020 called for the Manitoba government to transform social assistance into a Liveable Basic Needs Benefit (LBNB) and tear down the welfare wall. The LBNB raises income transfers to low-income people closer to the poverty line, removes clawbacks on earnings, and creates portable benefits for those moving from welfare to work.
To truly support Manitobans in greatest need, the Manitoba government should do more to keep the cost of living low. They can do so by increasing the minimum wage to a living wage, increasing Rent Assist, transforming EIA, keep the Public Utilities Board in place and utility bills low, providing quality public services, and more.
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