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This article was published 22/2/2017 (1138 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
With the clock ticking down to provincial budget day, an anti-poverty coalition is urging the Manitoba government to wake up to the needs of its lowest-income population.
"We are calling on the province to live up to their promise to develop a comprehensive poverty-reduction plan in budget 2017," Make Poverty History Manitoba chairman Josh Brandon said Tuesday in Winnipeg.
"We’re concerned with budget day coming up in a few weeks... we see the province may be stepping back from the promise made during the (2016) election campaign."
The budget is expected to be unveiled by the Progressive Conservative government sometime in March.
The government completed pre-budget consultations in October.
The last contact Make Poverty History Manitoba had from Families Minister Scott Fielding and Finance Minister Cameron Friesen was in a letter, received Jan. 11, that made no firm commitments.
"So far, all we’ve seen is talk about tax cuts and social impact bonds, but those aren’t the priority that we’ve heard from the community about what should be a poverty-reduction plan," Brandon said.
"What we hear is that there needs to be an emphasis on raising the incomes of the lowest-income Manitobans up closer to the poverty line and then a comprehensive plan of supports and programs to lift all Manitobans out of poverty.
"There should be consultations. The people living in poverty are the best advocates for themselves as to what programs work and what steps should be taken to help them."
In November, a national report card authored by Sid Frankel, University of Manitoba associate professor of social work, said the province’s child-poverty rate was among the highest in Canada.
The most recent data available (collected from 2014) show one in 3.5 children in Manitoba is living in poverty.
That’s a number exceeded only by the territory of Nunavut, the report said.
Under the Poverty Reduction Strategy Act, the Manitoba government is required to implement a long-term strategy to reduce poverty and increase social inclusion in the province. A five-year review of the strategy is mandated to be completed by May.