The province is committing $950 million this year to fighting poverty and promoting opportunities for low-income Manitobans including more than 30 new initiatives and program enhancements, Housing and Community Development Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross and Family Services and Consumer Affairs Minister Gord Mackintosh announced today.
“We have heard loud and clear from more than 560 organizations and individuals how cuts to front-line services disproportionately affect vulnerable Manitobans,” said Irvin-Ross. “We are therefore renewing our commitment to poverty reduction, while carefully choosing the initiatives that will be most effective in this economic downturn.”
The province set its priorities for program enhancements and new initiatives under ALL Aboard based on research and discussion with stakeholders and individuals living in poverty, the minister said. At the top of the list are housing, getting Manitobans off welfare, more child care and building awareness of existing supports.
The new initiatives build on work done last year including:
· launch of the province’s HOMEWorks! low-income housing strategy, which includes a homeless and mental-health housing component;
· enhancing the Rewarding Work strategy, including Rebound to help those affected by the recession, to get more Manitobans off welfare;
· a higher minimum wage;
· launching the Opening Doors Disability strategy;
· adding help for rent payments;
· expanding child care under the Family Choices five-year strategy; and
· launching Service Link to make existing low-income services more understandable and accessible.
Also, the province will introduce a suite of measures in 2011 to gauge progress under the four pillars of the ALL Aboard poverty reduction strategy. The suite of measures will be based on advice received from stakeholders and will form the basis of the annual report to the public to demonstrate progress on poverty reduction and social inclusion, Irvin-Ross said.
“Although we have boosted financial supports for low-income families by $76 million per year, which for a family of four on income assistance means an increase of 38 per cent since 1999, we are emphasizing investments that get people off welfare and into good paying jobs,” Mackintosh said. “Since its launch two years ago, Rewarding Work has assisted more than 4,000 people to access training and 1,200 people have left income assistance.
“Additionally, almost 500 people have been completely diverted from welfare to our new training and support initiative called Rebound. We will continue to strengthen these efforts.”
According to the market basket measure*, one of the suite of indicators proposed to measure progress, Manitoba had the third-lowest incidence of poverty compared with other provinces. The incidence of child poverty has been cut in half since 2000, lifting 28,000 children out of poverty.
“The ALL Aboard strategy recognizes that poverty costs us all. All Manitobans benefit from reducing poverty and promoting prosperity,” Irvin-Ross said.
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*Market Basket Measure, Human Resources Canada, 2007.