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Rent Assist Community Information Sessions

Manitoba Jobs and Economy is holding information sessions about changes to its Rent Assist program.  Please see below for details:

Invitation: Rent Assist Community Information Sessions

Rent Assist is a shelter benefit available to Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) recipients, as well as other low-income Manitobans renting in the private market. As announced in the Government of Manitoba’s Budget 2015, maximum Rent Assist benefits are increasing to 75% of Median Market Rent in December 2015. The Median Market Rent is established by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and reflects the midpoint between the highest and lowest amount of rent and utility costs that all households actually pay.

You are invited to attend an information session to learn about the details of this change for both EIA clients and other low-income Manitobans renting in the private market.

This session will be of particular interest to community agencies providing supports and services to low-income Manitobans.

You can choose one of the following two session dates:

Session #1               Monday, December 7, 2015

9:30 A.M. to 11:30 A.M.

Session #2               Wednesday, December 16, 2015

9:30 A.M. to 11:30 A.M.

Location:                 North Centennial Recreation and Leisure Facility

90 Sinclair Street

RSVP:            Please confirm your attendance by emailing eia@gov.mb.ca with your name, the name of your organization, and your preferred session date no later than Tuesday, December 2, 2015.

Questions? Email eia@gov.mb.ca or call 204-945-0028.

Cost of Food in Winnipeg

Marnie McQuade and Marina Sominsky

For participants of the Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) program in Manitoba there is a considerable difference between available funds allotted for basic needs and how much these necessities of life, actually cost.  Food availability and affordability is one of the primary issues faced by participants of EIA and others who have a low income level.

Our goal in this study was to survey both food availability and affordability for EIA participants to compare with their current budget allotted for basic needs. Considering the fact that a portion of the EIA often go toward supplementing housing and other costs of living, the shortage of funds available for food, clothing, transportation, personal and household supplies cause distress for individuals and families who are trying to meet their most basic needs.

Read full report: Snapshot of nutritious food basket

 

Health Benefits and You!

nurses Nov14 (17)Persons receiving social assistance are able to get a range of health and medical benefits. This chart summaries these benefits.

The chart was prepared by University of Manitoba nursing students in 2014 while on a placement at SPCW. While the chart is comprehensive and relatively current, it should only be used as a reference guide in helping people get their benefits. EIA staff and advocates will know what is available.

EIA health benefits brochure
EIA medical benefits chart – Nov14

Day to Day: Stories of Winnipeg’s Working Poor

“In just one month over 60,000 Manitobans will rely on a food bank. Day to Day tells the stories of three people living in Winnipeg who count on food banks to make it to the next day. While the welfare office tells them they need to find jobs to support themselves and they work everyday to make that happen, there is always something holding them back. It’s as simple as not having the money to pay for a phone bill, or their only mode of transportation, a bike, being stolen. but still they hunt tirelessly for jobs, volunteer in the community at every opportunity, and give all their love to their children because they can’t provide anything else. And despite the constant set backs these individuals continue to push forward because they have hope that things will get better.

Day to Day is a Danielle Da Silva short film available on Vimeo.

Review of Welfare Rates in Manitoba Long Overdue

On Aug 1/13 the $20 increase in Rent Aide promised in the Provincial budget was finally available for those on Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) who qualify.  This brought the income for rent to $365 for the lowest income Manitoban’s when combining their EIA and Rent Aide.

However, the rent control guideline announced this September allows rents to go up 2% and essentially eats the $20 especially when combined with utility cost increases.  The Median Market Rent in Winnipeg (MMR) is now $718.00 for a one bedroom and $912.00 for a two bedroom.

$365 is 50.8% of the new MMR of $718 for a one bedroom in Winnipeg.  That is 25% away from what the EIA rent allowance was in 1992 and shows how much the rent gap has grown in 20 years.  If the rent allowance for EIA had of kept pace with rent since 1992 it would be $539.

The Manitoba Government has allowed the rent gap to increase all the while they have been, increasing the Rent Control Guideline, reviewing the way they set EIA rates.

In 2010 the Manitoba Ombudsman recommended that;

32. It is recommended that the department institute a formal, documented process for reviewing and making recommendations for periodically updating basic and shelter rates, income and asset exemptions, and other income assistance allowances in a logical and equitable manner. It is recommended that in that process, program staff be consulted.

33. It is recommended that the rate-setting process be documented and made available to the public. 

34. It is recommended that the department determine whether participants are required to use benefits allocated for basic necessities to supplement benefits allocated for rent, and if so, how frequently and to what extent this occurs.

 

The Government has since 2010 committed to reviewing the EIA rates and they have had an EIA Rate Review paper prepared for a few months. There is a commitment to discuss the paper publicly and consult with community groups on how to ensure compliance with the 2010 Ombudsman’s Report.

These consultations must take place this fall so we do not have another budget in Manitoba passed without these changes to EIA rate setting.  The EIA Rate Review Paper will compare the rates in Manitoba to the rest of the country and the cost of living.  In 2011, the Welfare Council of Canada showed Manitoba had the lowest welfare rates in the country for single individuals deemed employable at an income of less than $7,000.00 per year.  The inflation rate for essentials other than housing is growing faster than incomes for all of us, what is growing fastest are the use of food banks by families in Manitoba, up 14% last year.

The EIA Advocates Network will urge the Manitoba Government to release the EIA Rate Review and meet with the community about how to comply with the Ombudsman’s recommendations regarding EIA rate setting.

Attached is the PDF to print for further distribution

EIA Advocates Network UpdateSeptember 2013