As in Ontario, Manitoba's social assistance rates are not keeping up with the cost of living. In Manitoba 60,000 people use employment and income assistance (EIA) as their major source of income. This assistance program as well as the shelter assistance has not kept pace with inflation.
Winnipeg, MB (1 October 2007) - The Social Planning Council sites that the shelter assistance rates have not increased in 14 years, while rent increase guidelines have gone up 19%. In the past 15 years assistance has gone up $20. A single person may receive $466 per month; $271 for shelter and $195 or about $6.50/day for all other living expenses.
This reality is driving recipients into crime and despair. Winnipeg's Social Planning Council is seeing women turn to prostitution. Many others develop addictions to escape from the despair. These issues are far more costly for our society to address than providing adequate social assistance. The Council is calling on the legislative assembly to steps to improve the situation:
1. Raise basic assistance rates immediately to their 1992 levels – when they were at their highest – and index annually to inflation.
2. Increase shelter rates to reflect average rents and increase annually according to the Manitoba Rent Increase Guideline.
3. Increase the earnings exemption to allow EIA recipients to keep their earned income and child support payments, to reach the poverty line.
4. Develop and support a community–government initiative to review Manitoba’s Employment and Income Assistance and implement recommendations for reform.