The Province is conducting consultations for a Manitoba poverty reduction plan. This is the first step towards implementing a new strategy, which the Province has promised since it was elected almost two years ago. With a strong plan in place, Manitoba could finally make headway in improving the lives of 146,000 Manitobans who suffer from poverty. Manitobans living in poverty don’t just need Band Aid solutions, they need fundamental change.
To facilitate organizations’ and individuals’ participation in the consultation, we are partnering with Make Poverty History Manitoba on an online petition tool. It helps you submit your priorities for what should be included in the Province’s poverty reduction plan. Just fill in your name and contact information below and edit the text to participate.
Investing in poverty reduction only makes sense. New health science research shows that spending to reduce poverty is effective in increasing life expectancy, reducing avoidable deaths and saves money in healthcare costs.
We are encouraged that the Province has started these consultations by listening to people with lived experience of poverty. Social Planning Council of Winnipeg and Immigration Partnership Winnipeg are hosting a consultation event with the Province later next month focused on the need of newcomers in Manitoba. Stay tuned for details.
Manitobans who live with poverty know firsthand how important programs like childcare, housing, Rent Assist are to make their lives more livable. They know that when these programs are cut, that means they will be that much more reliant on food banks to make it through the month, or worse yet, they are more likely to lose their housing altogether. People in poverty speak eloquently on how their social and economic isolation wears on their physical and mental health and can become a barrier to reaching the training and employment they need to escape poverty.
Manitoba needs a comprehensive plan with targets and timelines to lift all households out of poverty. The Province should listen to the participants in its consultations, as well as take notice of the research that has already been done by community organizations and governments alike of the steps it must take to end poverty. See for example, our 2016 report on the existing All Aboard poverty plan, The Measures We Use: Indicators of Poverty in Manitoba.
The Province is accepting submissions to its poverty reduction strategy consultation until February 23. Make Poverty History Manitoba has prioritized five policy areas that must be central to the renewed plan:
- Minimum Wage: Raise the minimum wage to a poverty line wage of $15.53 per hour in 2014 dollars.
- Social Housing: Build at least 300 net new social housing units annually for five years.
- Income Benefits: Introduce a new basic needs benefit to lift all Manitobans up to or above the poverty line.
- Child Care: Create at least 12,000 licensed and funded, non-profit childcare spaces with priority in low-income neighbourhoods.
- 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.
If you support these recommendations, or would like to add some of your own, fill out our submission tool below.
Only if Manitobans speak out about how poverty reduction is a priority will the government listen and enact change that offers more than coins.
The full Make Poverty History Manitoba submission is available here:
Submissions are now closed. Stay tuned for further updates and chances to submit your feedback.
Josh Brandon is Community Animator at Social Planning Council of Winnipeg