May 13th, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Reality Check: Marginalized Manitobans face far more serious obstacles than the size of their dreams
To mark the 150th anniversary of Manitoba joining Confederation, Premier Brian Pallister chose to make a statement that while seeming to champion unity only furthered division. Instead of an honest acknowledgment of our past and current struggles to create a truly just and inclusive society, Premier Pallister chose to ignore the ever present effects of our racist past and how that has permeated our society, economy and the systems that govern Manitoba today. His assertion that in Manitoba “the only obstacle to achieving your potential is the size of your dreams” is not supported by the facts.
Premier Pallister responds to questions about his statement on Manitoba’s 150th anniversary
“Decades of research have demonstrated that poverty is a significant barrier to maintaining good physical and mental health. In addition, poverty in childhood impairs all aspects of development, educational outcomes and eventual occupational success. This barrier is especially prominent in Manitoba, which has the highest child poverty rate of any province, with one of every 3.6 children living in poverty. Manitoba children are failed by both the labour market and governments. At the rate of progress since 1989 it would take another 697.5 years to eradicate child poverty in Manitoba. This is a testament to our collective failure. We continue to contribute to the social deficit that must be borne by our children.” Sid Frankel, National Campaign 2000 Committee and Faculty of Social Work, U of M
“Relationships of trust are broken when elected leadership fails to recognize the Métis and the signing of Treaties, which made Manitoba possible. Manitoba has a responsibility now and in the recovery from COVID-19 to work in meaningful partnership with Indigenous communities for self-determination and shared prosperity. This must include urgent action on areas of provincial jurisdiction in the TRC Calls to Action and the MMIWG Calls to Justice.” Molly McCraken, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
“It is crucial to look at the systemic barriers that exist for many Manitobans who face marginalization and social or economic exclusion. Poverty in Manitoba stems from systemic failure, not individual failings (or lacking in their size of dreams). The history of colonization in our province intersects directly with the disproportionate rates of poverty among Indigenous peoples. I’ll be proud of our province when we deal with the systems that have relegated people living in poverty to subsistence living for too long. Let’s instead implement the exciting solutions coming from the community to support economic, social, and climate justice for all Manitobans.” Michael Barkman, Make Poverty History Manitoba
“It is deeply problematic and dangerous for our Premier to use antiquated and dangerous language by inferring sexual orientation is a choice. Especially, at a time where the LGBTTQ2S* community especially youth, experience higher suicide rates, struggle to find mental health supports and continue to face increased barriers accessing basic health care services.”Brianne Goertzen, Manitoba Health Coalition
“Just last week the Court of Appeals ruled against the provincial government’s long-standing practice of forcing people on disability benefits to apply for their CPP at age 60. This policy meant people lost almost a full third of their pension. The Court found that people with disabilities were already over-represented in poverty and faced far too many barriers. In a more just society, this would never have had to go to court. We need our government to focus on ensuring that all Manitobans really do have equitable opportunity to live in dignity.” David Krohn, Cerebral Palsy Association of Manitoba
As ethnocultural and newcomer communities, we appreciate the potential opportunities that exist for us in Manitoba. Many of us come from communities that, at one time or another, had been marginalized and we know the lasting effects of trauma and economic barriers. Manitoba’s Indigenous peoples experience marginalization and it is important for Manitoba, as we celebrate Manitoba 150, to acknowledge the hospitality of the Indigenous Peoples, the injustices they endured and take steps through Treaties and the Reconciliation process to move forward. Perla Perla Javate, Ethno-Cultural Council of Manitoba
“Yes, we always rank amongst the highest in charitable giving and yet we continue to be the province with the highest rates of child poverty as just one example of where we are failing. The sector is doing everything we can but chronic underfunding and unstable funding is the problem. We have been trying to do more with less for decades and it is not working.” Sandra Oakley, Manitoba Federation of Non-Profit Organization
“Because of poverty, racism and other forms of discrimination marginalized Manitobans experience material and psychological insecurity which erodes their capacity to accomplish their educational and occupational dreams. Poverty and discrimination also impair their health status and the well-being of their families. These are realities we as a province have ignored for decades. A basic income delivered as a right would provide a secure base for health, family well-being and educational and occupational success.” Paul Walsh, Basic Income Manitoba
“We work to create a welcoming and inclusive Winnipeg where everyone finds the support and opportunities to realize their best potential. This vision will not be attainable if we, as a society, do not recognize, value and learn from the past experiences of all community members. Indigenous Peoples’ experiences (past and present) must be recognized and validated as a source of learning to authentically engage our community members in building an inclusive, just and equitable society. Newcomer communities in Manitoba are playing a positive role in bridging the gaps and creating ties with all segments of our society and specifically with Indigenous communities. It is more than time we all make the same commitment.” Hani Ataan Al-Ubeady, Immigration Partnership Winnipeg
“Indigenous and other racialized people are over-represented in poverty so they are over-represented in our systems like Child and Family Services, Health, Income Assistance and Justice. 75% of the people we incarcerate in Manitoba are Indigenous. This can only mean one of two things: Either Indigenous people are more ‘criminal’ in nature or the barriers they face are simply too insurmountable. To believe the former is to be racist. To believe the latter means systemic change is necessary.” Kate Kehler, Social Planning Council of Winnipeg
We call on the premier and all members of the legislature to remove the barriers that for far too long have led far too many to not even dare to dream. At 150, it is more than time.
For all media inquiries, please contact:
Kate Kehler, Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, 204-590-8932, firstname.lastname@example.org
to be connected with any or all organizations quoted above.