Child poverty rising in Manitoba after pandemic payments closed

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Child poverty rising in Manitoba after pandemic payments closed
Child poverty rising in Manitoba after pandemic payments closed – Feb 13, 2024

A new report shows child and family poverty rates are on the rise in Manitoba.

The report called Unprecedented Progress on Poverty Reduction Being Undone says as of 2021, 27.2 per cent of children under six years old and 24 per cent of children under 18 were living in poverty around the province.

That’s almost 75,000 young lives, a jump of 10,000 from the year before, said Kate Kehler, executive director of the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg (SPCW).

She said the report used 2021 data because that was the last year tax filer data was available, but “it’s also the first year after the pandemic benefits amended.”

“We saw a huge drop in poverty between 2019 and 2020, and we knew that would be tied to the CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefit), and the CRB (Canada Recovery Benefit) payments,” she said.

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After a postal code analysis, it was clear that the areas of Manitoba that relied on CERB were also the areas suffering child and family poverty the most, Kehler said, with many of these community members being “Indigenous, visible minorities and recent immigrants to the country,” and a part of families led by single moms.

“We knew that once (CERB and CRB payments) went away, that (child and family poverty) number was going to go right back up again,” she said.

Government transfers like these are important to battling poverty rates, she said, noting there should be an uptick in these in the next year.

“Unfortunately, we tend to spend them on tax breaks in this province,” she said, taking shots at the six-month provincial gas tax holiday that began in the new year. “If we had dedicated that (tax) money to poverty eradication, 31 per cent of families would have been lifted out of poverty,” she said. “So, one of our main recommendations is ‘do not extend that.'”

Global News reached out to the province for comment, but it did not respond by deadline.

Other recommendations include a refresh on poverty reduction strategies, but Kehler says that too will need funding. However, with the NDP prepping their budget, she says there is an opportunity to advocate.

“Anybody who wants to get involved, please do,” she said. “Engage with your (Member of the Legislative Assembly) directly. You get to call them, you get to email them, you get to write them. You get to go and knock on the door of their office if you want to talk to them about this.”

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Click to play video: 'City of Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Strategy'
City of Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Strategy

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