Manitoba social assistance recipients fall further behind - new data
Life is getting harder for the poorest Manitobans, especially for single people and people with disabilities living alone who depend on Employment and Income Assistance (EIA). Make Poverty History Manitoba is calling on the Manitoba Government to financially support people living below the poverty line under the province’s jurisdiction in its 2021 budget scheduled to be tabled on April 7.
EIA is the provincial income assistance of last resort. Basic benefit rates have not increased in many years, the $25 a month job seekers allowance was eliminated in 2019, and the Rent Assist shelter benefit has been frozen for three years. Meanwhile, costs for rent, food and everything else keep going up by the cost of living.
Altogether, and counting for inflation, the amount people on EIA have to live on continues to drop (see chart). This amounts to $466 less in 2020 than in 2018. This does not even account for the extraordinary increase in costs faced by low income Manitobans as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently individuals are surviving on EIA rates of $800 a month. The poverty rate is $1,537 a month (Market Basket Measure).
The Manitoba Government has so far done very little to help low-income people during COVID. There is a human cost to under-funding social assistance - worsened health outcomes, homelessness, and loss of human dignity. The Manitoba government must act in Budget 2021 to remedy this.
COVID-19 disproportionately affects people living in poverty as income is a social determinant of health. Make Poverty History Manitoba is calling for the following immediate actions to be taken by the Government of Manitoba in Budget 2021 to reduce poverty and homelessness and stop the spread of COVID-19.
- Fully exempt the CERB, CRB and other federal COVID-19 recovery measures from EIA claw backs to ensure EIA benefits are not interrupted or reduced.
- Increase the EIA allowances for single adults by $383 per month and for people with disabilities by $236 per month and transform EIA into a Liveable Basic Needs Benefit.
- Reinstate the provincial eviction ban to prevent homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly during Code Red restrictions.