Most Manitobans who receive federal COVID-19 financial supports will become ineligible for provincial social assistance, under new rules announced Friday by Families Minister Heather Stefanson.
The new rules treat the Canada Response Benefit, Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, and Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit as earned income for Employment and Income Assistance clients.
"We want to ensure our clients have timely, clear information about how these benefits will be treated by the provincial EIA program," a Manitoba Families spokeswoman said in an email. "They will be considered earned income, which is consistent with how we previously treated CERB (the former Canada Emergence Response Benefit)."
It has been replaced with several new income support programs for those not eligible to transition to federal EI benefits.
What the announcement means is EIA recipients in Manitoba will have their assistance cheques clawed back by 70 per cent after the first $200 in federal benefits, says Make Poverty History Manitoba.
As with similar rules applied after CERB first took effect, only a handful of federal beneficiaries will continue to receive any provincial assistance, said Josh Brandon, with the anti-poverty coalition’s steering committee.
He called on the province to provide more help to those experiencing poverty, especially amid the COIVID-19 pandemic.
"Manitoba’s EIA rates are woefully inadequate, leaving the poorest Manitobans at risk of hunger and homelessness, while providing no room within their household budgets for any of the basic necessities to help them survive this public health crisis," Brandon said in a news release.
"Manitoba should follow the lead of British Columbia, the Yukon and Northwest Territories, which have so far exempted federal benefits in their financial resources calculations for individuals and families who depend on EIA."
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.