November 14, 2019

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Greens a bit red-faced after Manitoba poverty-stat blunder

Provincial Green Leader James Beddome cited the one-third figure in announcing his party’s support for a universal basic income last week at a Winnipeg press conference. (Mike Deal / Free Press files)</p>

Provincial Green Leader James Beddome cited the one-third figure in announcing his party’s support for a universal basic income last week at a Winnipeg press conference. (Mike Deal / Free Press files)

OTTAWA — The Green party based a recent Winnipeg press conference on a botched statistic that inflated Manitoba's poverty rate.

One in five Manitobans are low-income, according to a Statistics Canada metric.

But according to a Friday morning press release from the federal Green party, "three in 10 Manitobans live in poverty."

The release cited a report that attributed a 29 per cent poverty rate to Nunavut. Manitoba’s rate sits at 20.7 per cent in that report.

Both figures come from the federal Census Family Low-Income Measure, a metric tabulated based on family sizes and median incomes.

Citizens for Public Justice correctly cited those figures in a 2018 report. A Green spokeswoman confirmed her party had confused the numbers in that report, saying the party website would be updated.

Green Leader Elizabeth May also tweeted the faulty figure last Friday. Neither May nor the party had corrected their information online by midday Monday.

Provincial Green Leader James Beddome cited the one-third figure in announcing his party’s support for a universal basic income last week, at a Winnipeg press conference, where May pledged to explore that proposal on the federal level.

The federal Liberals in 2018 set Canada’s official poverty line as the Market Basket Measure, which tabulates how many households can afford food, shelter and necessities with their post-tax income.

Officially, 12.5 per cent of Manitobans lived below the poverty line in the 2016 census, compared to 12.9 per cent of Canadians.

dylan.robertson@freepress.mb.ca

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