Manitoba Report Card on Child and Family Poverty, 2016

Summary: 

This is the twenty-seventh annual Manitoba Child and Family Poverty Report Card. Last year we described child and family poverty in Manitoba as a crisis, which has become a chronic nightmare. In 2014, the nightmare continued.

In 2014, Manitoba’s child and family poverty rate was unchanged from 2013, and remained the highest of any province, well above the national rate. More than one in 3.5 Manitoba children lived in poverty during 2014. This amounted to 85,110 children.

Clearly, both national and provincial policy responses have failed in substantial ways. But, in 2016, there are rays of hope. The federal government has introduced the Canada Child Benefit, which is much more progressively targeted and generous than child-related transfer and taxation benefits under the Harper government. The Pallister government chose not to claw back this enhanced benefit from recipients of Employment and Income Assistance, to its credit. The federal government is also currently developing a poverty reduction strategy.

In the 2016 provincial election campaign, the Progressive Conservatives demonstrated that they understand how serious a problem child and family poverty is. Their platform document, Better Manitoba, cited our 2015 Manitoba Child and Family Poverty Report Card, and, in his victory speech, premier elect Pallister mentioned child poverty as a problem that his government will address. In a November 25, 2015 story in the Winnipeg Free Press, Mr. Pallister said this about our recommendation to set child poverty reduction targets:

                       Yes... I think it's really critical that there be those targets. I accept with great enthusiasm the challenge of working to set hard targets." 

So, Mr. Pallister, we know that you understand the importance of eliminating child and family poverty, and that you have passionately expressed your desire to do so. We anxiously await your plan, including hard targets and timelines, and dedication of the necessary resources to meet targets as scheduled in the plan.

Your government was elected on April 19, 2016; and we have not yet seen your child and family poverty reduction plan. We were disappointed that no plan, targets or timelines were announced in your November 21 speech from the throne.

Hopefully, in November 2017, Manitobans will not still be asking ourselves how we justify more than 1 in 3.5 of our children living in poverty.

Publication date: 
Nov 2016
Author: 
Sid Frankel
Publisher: 
Winnepeg Harvest, in cooperation with Campaign 2000, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg
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