Manitoba’s working poor will benefit from an improved Manitoba child benefit and work incentives, Family Services and Housing Minister Gord Mackintosh announced today.
“We are moving forward to ensure it pays for Manitobans to make the move from welfare to the working world,” said Mackintosh. “These initiatives are the next step in dismantling the welfare wall and helping to ensure that work pays.”
Under Rewarding Work, a four-year action plan to move Manitobans from welfare to work, three new measures effective Jan. 1, 2008, include:
·A stronger work incentive allowance will help to ensure people are better off working and keep more of their earnings. Earnings exemptions for 4,200 Manitobans on assistance will almost double so workers can keep $200 of net monthly earnings plus 30 per cent of net monthly earnings over $200. Under the existing program, participants can keep up to $115 and 25 per cent of earnings above that amount, depending on their case category.
·A new $11-million Manitoba child benefit will ensure parents will not lose all support for their children when moving off welfare. Up to 33,000 families with children will benefit. This means an initial gain for low-income, working families of up to $420 tax free each year for every child. Monthly payments will begin in January 2008. For a single parent of three children working full or part time and earning $15,000 or less, this totals $1,260 with partial benefits for parents who earn $15,000 to $20,000.
·A new job-seekers’ allowance will help single, non-disabled adults and childless couples who actively participate in an employment plan. Effective January 2008, the allowance program will provide $25 per month to participants, assisting 3,900 recipients through an annual investment of $1.17 million.
Under the first phase of Rewarding Work and the recently-announced minimum wage increase, a two-parent family of four where one parent works at minimum wage will see their income increase by more than 11 per cent. As of April 1, the minimum wage will rise to $8.50 per hour, an increase of
42 per cent since 1999.
“Investing in low-income working families and reducing the barriers that people face when leaving welfare for work are critical in an effective anti-poverty strategy,” said Michael Mendelson, senior scholar with the Caledon Institute of Social Policy.
Today’s announcements total $14 million per year. Other steps in Rewarding Work already announced include a work clothing and bus pass stipend of $100 per month for those working their way off welfare, longer job training when it leads to work and more personalized education and job preparation for youth at risk of dependency and for single parents. For people with disabilities on income assistance, there was a doubling of the allowable exempted cash assets of an individual with further initiatives to be announced next month. More information about Rewarding Work is available at www.gov.mb.ca/rewardingwork.