PROVINCE ACKNOWLEDGES PROGRESS IN FIGHT ON POVERTY, BUT THERE IS MORE TO DO: MACKINTOSH
– – – $4.3 Million to Support Manitobans to Move Into Jobs, Increase Shelter Welfare Rates
The poverty rate for Manitoba children living in single-mother families plummeted by 63 per cent from 1999 to 2006, the biggest reduction in Canada, according to figures just released by Statistics Canada. Furthermore, the number of children living in poverty overall dropped by 36 per cent to 12.4 per cent in 2006 from 19.3 per cent in 1999. And the total number of Manitobans living in poverty fell to 11.4 per cent in 2006 from 14.9 per cent in 1999.
“We acknowledge the progress we’ve made, but these figures are no comfort to a family living in poverty,” Family Services and Housing Minister Gord Mackintosh said. “Although the child-poverty rate has dropped from 19 per cent to 12 per cent, we must continue to work hard.”
Since 1999, the number of people on welfare in Manitoba has decreased by more than 12,500, or 18 per cent. Since the province introduced Rewarding Work in 2007, the number of people on welfare has dropped by 1,500.
To help support Manitobans as they move from welfare to jobs and help with the cost of housing, Rewarding Work is providing an extra $4.3 million, Mackintosh announced today.
“Good housing and a good job are the two best anti-poverty measures and Rewarding Work supports these efforts by providing programs that help people find meaningful employment,” the minister said. “We are also supporting Manitobans by helping them pay the rent so they can have safe, affordable homes.”
Adding to the $27.6-million commitment made last year, the extra $4.3 million in new Rewarding Work initiatives will help people with disabilities, single parents and other low-income people by:
· Increasing shelter rates for non-disabled single adults on assistance to $285 from $271 per month plus an additional $35 a month directly from the Manitoba Shelter Benefit for a total increase of 18 per cent. Non-disabled childless couples will also receive $35 a month for an increase of nine per cent.
· Increasing rooming house rates by $49 per month to $285 from $236, plus an additional $35 directly from the Manitoba Shelter Benefit, for a total increase of $84 per month, a 36 per cent increase.
Recipients will receive increased assistance payments at the end of June to help pay their July rent. Manitoba Shelter Benefits will be issued in July. Research shows that having a stable place to live provides an important foundation for health, success and work, Mackintosh said.
The minister also announced:
·The Rewarding Work Rent Allowance, a new $50-per-month benefit, is being introduced to help non-disabled single adults and couples without children pay their rent after they leave welfare for work. Other people who leave assistance can receive Manitoba Shelter Benefits. The benefit will be provided for up to one year and eligible recipients will receive it in the month after they leave assistance. The first cheques will be issued at the end of October 2008, which will help pay rent for November.
·Get Started! is a one-time benefit that will be paid to people who leave welfare for work to help them pay for costs related to starting a new job, such as work tools. Disabled people can receive $325, parents $250 and others $175. Recipients will begin to receive Get Started! in February 2009. People will receive the benefit in the month after they leave welfare.
·The Rewarding Work Health Plan will be provided to single parents and persons with disabilities who leave welfare for work. It extends coverage for prescription drugs and dental and optical services for up to two full years after people leave assistance. People will begin receiving the enhanced coverage in December 2008.
Rewarding Work is part of the province’s anti-poverty strategy which includes Family Choices, Housing First and HOMEWorks, substantially increased education funding, increases to the minimum wage and other related measures to ensure that everyone can take advantage of the growing economy.