Advocates call on Winnipeg mayor for poverty reduction strategy

Make Poverty History Manitoba is asking Mayor Bowman for a comprehensive poverty reduction plan.
Make Poverty History Manitoba is asking Mayor Bowman for a comprehensive poverty reduction plan. File photo/Global News

Make Poverty History Manitoba released a report Wednesday morning calling on the City of Winnipeg — and Mayor Bowman specifically — to make the implementation of a poverty reduction strategy a priority.

Winnipeg Without Poverty: Calling on the City to Lead includes more than 50 recommendations for the city’s consideration, covering everything from housing and transportation to newcomer integration and employment.

The report details poverty reduction strategies in other cities, saying Edmonton and Calgary have had success thanks to mayor-driven initiatives, and hopes for the same in Winnipeg.

Based on various criteria, the authors indicate as many as 107,000 Winnipeggers are living in poverty. The report states 35 per cent of Indigenous residents are below the poverty line, versus 14 per cent of non-Indigenous Winnipeggers.

READ MORE: Province hiking rent rates for low-income tenants in Manitoba

Even though Winnipeg has its share of people living in poverty, Make Poverty History Winnipeg said what the city doesn’t have is a comprehensive strategy to combat the problem.

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“When we reviewed what other jurisdictions were doing across Canada, we found that those that had the most potential for a successful impact and were actually seeing results were in places where the mayors are leading those efforts,” Kirsten Bernas said.

“Here in Winnipeg, we want to see our mayor take the lead in developing a comprehensive plan to reduce poverty.”

Bernas said the introduction of a reduced cost transit pass for low-income Winnipeggers would be very welcome. Reduced fare passes are something both Calgary and Edmonton have brought forward, and Edmonton also successfully lobbied the province to boost the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

“In terms of low-income bus fares, Councillor Cindy Gilroy has been leading the charge to make sure that it’s considered part of the operational review of transit,” Mayor Bowman said.

Bowman said he hasn’t read the review yet, but has met with people from Make Poverty History and its supporting partners and will meet with them again next Wednesday.

“There’s no single bullet, there’s no single person that can eliminate poverty,” he said.

“Poverty has been around for some time and the only way we’re going to really tackle it in effective ways is by working together.”

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