Child Poverty in Manitoba
A report published on November 21, 2017 found that child poverty rates in Manitoba are chronic.
In 1989 (before many of you were born lol), the House of Commons made a commitment to end child poverty by the year 2000.
An annual publication called The Manitoba Child and Family Report Card provides progress reports on Manitoba’s efforts to ending child poverty.
The 2017 report card indicates that 59.4% of Manitoban children living with a single parent are in poverty. This is 16% higher than the national average.
The poverty rate among children living with two parents is 17.3% which is 6.9% higher than the national average.
Well, obviously child poverty has not ended. In fact, according to the report, the rate of poverty in Manitoba increased to a chronic level by 19.6% between 1989 and 2015.
Why is child poverty in Manitoba at a critical level?
- Manitoba Labour Market is Failing Children
According to the report, if only market income (income from employment and investments only) was to be considered, 36.2% of children in Manitoba would be living below the Low Income Measure.
This is to say that more than 35% of Manitoban children would be poor if government transfer payments were not factored into the statistics.
It is also important to note that the minimum wage in Manitoba is currently $11.15.
- Government Income Transfer Programs are Failing Helping Children
Federal benefits are equally distributed amongst the provinces and territories. However family structure, age, disability rate and unemployment rate partially affect the amounts received.
The percentage reduction in child poverty through the use of of government transfers is 13.5% below the national percentage.
An example used in the report indicates that a single parent with a 2 year old, would receive lower welfare income lower in 2015 ($17,103) than in 1986 ($17,225).
According the report all welfare incomes in 2015 were much lower than the poverty line.
- Poor Quality Jobs and Low Wages are Failing Manitoba Children
The irony is that the unemployment rate in Manitoba in 2015 was the second lowest in the country. That sounds good right?
The issue is that while the unemployment rate was amongst the lowest, the average weekly earnings in Manitoba were fifth lowest in Canada. In simple word, while a good percentage of the population is employed, they mostly have odd jobs and/or receive low wages.
The 2017 report card emphasizes that well paying sustainable jobs are required to prevent poverty.
What Is Currently Being Done?
The report made a firm call on the Pallister government to immediately start working on a Poverty Reduction Strategy.
The government encouraged Manitobans to complete surveys or to share written submissions on poverty reduction to facilitate the development of an effective poverty reduction strategy.
The window to participate was finally closed on March 23rd after its initial extension from the January 31st deadline.
The government is now going into the next phase in developing a poverty reduction strategy for the province. I cannot wait to see what they come up with.
PS: The data used in this article is from the most recent statistics published in 2015.