Archived News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

June 9, 2011

JOB TRAINING, CHILDREN'S OPTI-CARE, TRANSIT ASSISTANCE AMONG NEW INITIATIVES TO HELP MANITOBANS ESCAPE WELFARE: MINISTERS


Fourteen New Poverty-reduction Measures Offer Low-income Manitobans a Hand Up: Mackintosh, Irvin-Ross, Howard

Fourteen new initiatives under the province’s ALL Aboard poverty-reduction strategy, including an opti-care plan for children, will help more Manitobans get off and stay off welfare, Family Services and Consumer Affairs Minister Gord Mackintosh, Housing and Community Development Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross, and Labour and Immigration Minister Jennifer Howard announced today.

“After more than a decade of reducing poverty, there are 30,000 fewer low-income Manitobans including 19,000 fewer children,” said Mackintosh.  “But those numbers are no comfort to people still struggling, so we are introducing measures to help more Manitobans get off welfare by ensuring that work pays and supports are available.”

The strategy includes a Children’s Opti-care plan for low-income working families, help for those on welfare at college, a proactive strategy to train welfare recipients for work in child care and schools, as well as legislation to ensure that co-ordinated poverty fighting is incorporated in government budgeting, Mackintosh added.

“The best route out of poverty is a decent job,” said Irvin-Ross.  “It is encouraging that in 2010 there were 78,000 more Manitobans employed than in 1999.  More importantly, more than 62,000 of these people were working in full-time jobs.”

Manitoba has the lowest single-parent poverty rate and the second-lowest poverty rate for seniors, Irvin-Ross said, adding Manitoba has led the country in reducing child poverty since 2000.

The new measures to combat poverty and address social inclusion include:

Under the Rewarding Work strategy:

  • Children’s Opti-care, an annual investment of $112,000 to help eligible families pay for their children’s eyeglasses.  The province will pay 80 per cent of the maximum rate of $105.  This means up to $84 per child every three years.  Benefits may be higher for children with special vision needs.
  • New funding of $274,500 this year and $499,000 in future years for Opportunities for Employment with an innovative approach to help 500 people move from welfare to work.
  • Rewarding Work in Education, which will invest $314,000 to help up to 120 low-income, newcomer and Aboriginal people to become certified education and child-care assistants.
  • Helping welfare recipients to complete their education and get jobs by allowing those who attend college or university to keep their full employment and income assistance (EIA) benefits without the federal student grants being clawed back. 
  • A $50,000 funding increase to Centre Flavie-Laurent to help it distribute donated furniture, appliances, household items and seasonal clothing to Manitobans in need.
  • Implementing MYTEAM with $2.4 million in funding over four years to help up to 30 youth leaving foster care to obtain training, jobs, housing and financial independence.
  • Helping people looking for work find jobs through the consolidation of Employment Manitoba offices with employment and income assistance offices across the province starting in 2012.

A stronger hand up:

  • Enhanced Settlement Service Program, a two-year, $600,000 pilot project for high-needs refugees supported by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) through Manitoba Labour and Immigration.
  • Increased support by Manitoba Housing to existing non-profit and co-operative housing organizations with expiring mortgages to enable these housing providers to maintain current rental rates for their tenants and help protect social and affordable housing in Manitoba.
  • A rent-cap program for tenants in units with rent geared to income, which has been implemented across Manitoba and sets an upper limit on rental rates.  This rewards work and helps tenants invest extra income into their families and their futures by ensuring they don’t pay rents above market rates for their homes when their income increases. 
  • Working with other provinces and the federal government to establish a national basic income support plan to get those with no reasonable expectation of earned income, due to disability, get off welfare.
  • Increased funding of $15,000 per year for a total of $250,000 per year for SEED Winnipeg to help low-income individuals, groups and communities start their own businesses.
  • Providing $2.3 million more to support municipal public transit to keep fares low enough to enable low-income Manitobans travel to jobs and training.
  • Stable support for the United Way of Winnipeg’s Poverty Reduction Council with a new three-year commitment of $50,000 per year for a total of $150,000 over three years.

The above is in addition to improvements to EIA and RentAid announced earlier.

“More than at any recent time, Manitoba is a welcoming place for new Canadians,” said Howard.  “While most have good jobs, some are leaving horrific circumstances and need support to get work and avoid poverty.  With the help of federal investments, the province will now strengthen supports for refugees in need.”

ALL Aboard is led by a ministers’ committee co-chaired by Mackintosh and Irvin-Ross.  The committee oversees the cross-departmental work to co-ordinate efforts to reduce poverty and promote social inclusion.  It is complemented by the Premier’s Advisory Council on Education, Poverty and Citizenship, which engages representatives of the broader community.

“We are very pleased to see this concentrated effort to reduce poverty.  In particular, by supporting the Rewarding Work in Education initiative advanced by the council, there will be greater opportunities for those in poverty to gain the dignity and well-being that a good job brings,” said Brian Postl, dean of the faculty of medicine at the University of Manitoba and co-chair of the Premier’s Advisory Council on Education, Poverty and Citizenship.

The province has also introduced poverty-reduction legislation in its budget implementation law to entrench the duty of government to implement a co-ordinated poverty-reduction strategy, Mackintosh said.  The act would require the government to demonstrate in each annual budget how the budget will implement the poverty-reduction strategy and to report to the public each year on progress made using a set of indicators. 

­- 30 -

BACKGROUND INFORMATION ATTACHED




Backgrounder
Children's Opti-care - https://www.gov.mb.ca/asset_library/en/newslinks/2011/06/Childrens_Opti-care.bkgr.doc