We stand for a Livable Basic Needs Benefit to lift all Manitobans up to or above the poverty line.
Right now, all families on EIA are hundreds of dollars below the market basket measure of poverty. A Livable Basic Needs Benefit would allow all families to stand on their feet and make choices to meet their needs with dignity. The elimination of the welfare wall will support that dignity and inclusion.
Together with our partners at Basic Income Manitoba, our campaign calls on the provincial government to introduce a new Livable Basic Needs Benefit, replacing the existing Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) benefit. The new benefit, which should be part of a comprehensive plan to address poverty, should be set at a level to cover the actual cost of basic needs such as food, clothing, communications and transportation. The proposed benefit would be sufficient, when combined with other federal and provincial income supports, to lift all Manitobans to at least the poverty line.
While 146 000 Manitobans live below the market basket measure poverty line, the EIA basic needs budget has barely increased in two decades. EIA incomes are so low that people are living in an ongoing state of crisis, making it impossible to pursue training and jobs leading to financial independence.
Currently, EIA recipients suffer punitive claw back rates on earned income. After the first $200 of wage income, benefits are reduced by 70 cents for each dollar earned. Other income like child support payments are taken back dollar for dollar. This makes it hard for families to get ahead. It may create disincentives for labour participation, trapping EIA recipients behind a welfare wall. Our proposed benefit would alleviate this welfare wall by making benefits available to all low-income households, with a more reasonable ratio of reduced benefits to earned income, allowing for a smoother transition for workers entering the workforce.
We call on the Province to ensure all Manitobans have a total income at least equal to the poverty line as part of a comprehensive plan.
This can be achieved by replacing the part of EIA meant to cover non-rent basic needs with a new, Livable Basic Needs Benefit for which all low-income Manitobans would be eligible, regardless of whether they receive other benefits through EIA.
The proposed benefit would include some elements of a basic income including setting income supports at a livable level and making them universal for all low income Manitobans. The proposed Livable Basic Needs Benefit would not replace Rent Assist or other EIA benefits such as disability or employment training supports.
Read our 2018 Livable Basic Needs Benefit Backgrounder for more information.
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