This spring CCEDNet – Manitoba members identified poverty reduction, social enterprise and housing as priority areas for the 2015 provincial budget. CCEDNet-Manitoba worked to ensure these and other member priorities would be represented in budget 2015 and we are pleased to report that significant investments have been made. Of note are investments in the areas of poverty reduction and housing with the full implementation of Rent Assist, as well as in social enterprise development with funding for the implementation of the Manitoba Social Enterprise Strategy. Read on for details on these and other announcements related to CCEDNet – Manitoba policy priorities.
1. Poverty Reduction
A. Implement the recommendations in The View from Here 2015: Manitobans Call for a Renewed Poverty Reduction Plan and identify outcome based targets and timelines for measuring results to make ALL Aboard more comprehensive and effective.
Budget 2015 supports at least 16 of the 50 recommendations in The View from Here 2015. Most supportive initiatives are identified in Budget Paper E Reducing Poverty and Promoting Social Inclusion. Make Poverty History Manitoba outlines a quick summary here. The province has still not identified targets and timelines for poverty reduction.
2. Skills, Jobs, and Growing the Economy
A. Allocate at least $250,000 to co-produce the Manitoba Social Enterprise Strategy in full partnership with the social enterprise sector where the mission is job creation and training for people with barriers to employment.
Budget 2015 invests $250,000 annually for the next three years to begin implementation of the Social Enterprise Strategy.
B. Fund the initial set up and operating costs of a community-designed and delivered Labour Market Intermediary in Winnipeg, rural Manitoba, and in the North to improve labour market outcomes for multi-barriered job seekers, with a primary focus on Aboriginal people.
Budget 2015 confirms that the Premier’s Economic Advisory Council on Education, Poverty and Citizenship will be working with community organizations to help move forward an Aboriginal community based Labour Market Intermediary as part of All Aboard the provincial poverty reduction and social inclusion strategy.
C. Allocate $300,000 per community to support the start-up of social enterprises that improve food security on First Nations.
Budget 2015 does not provide new funding for social enterprise start ups on First Nations. It references existing investments in Meechim North Inc., a local food social enterprise operating in Garden Hill First Nation.
A. Increase the housing budget by $30 million to adequately fund existing commitments to increase supply without reducing other important housing initiatives, including supporting and maintaining the existing social housing stock.
Budget 2015 provides an additional allocation of $10 million to the housing budget to fund existing commitments to increase housing supply without reducing other important housing initiatives.
B. Pro-actively work with housing providers and make the necessary investments to ensure that there is no net loss of rent-geared-to-income (RGI) housing units due to expiring federal operating agreements.
Budget 2015 does not specifically reference the Manitoba government’s work that is underway to ensure there is no net loss of RGI housing units due to expiring federal operating agreements.
C. Increase the maximum Rent Assist benefit level to equal 75% of median market rent (MMR).
Budget 2015 provides funding to increase the maximum Rent Assist benefit level to 75% of MMR by December 2015 as called for by Make Poverty History Manitoba – representing the largest increase in benefits for people on EIA in decades. This shelter benefit will be available to eligible low-income Manitobans both on and off Employment and Income Assistance, an innovation that lays a foundation for building towards a guaranteed annual income.
4. Child Care
A. Create enough new licensed early learning and child care spaces to meet the demand for child care services as determined by the Online Child Care Registry, with priority given to creating child care spaces in lower-income neighbourhoods including in rural and Northern communities. Operating funding should be sufficient to fund a provincial salary scale that is at current market competitive rates and that applies to all child care professionals.
B. Invest in resources and training supports to recruit, train and retain Aboriginal, Francophone and Visible Minority communities to the childcare profession.
Budget 2015 commits to 900 newly funded child care spaces and to support higher wages for the child care workforce. It also supports the Early Learning and Child Care Commission, which will investigate system redesign, including looking at ways to make the early learning and child care system more universally accessible.
5. Community-Led Development
A. Expand the NPO strategy to support additional community-based non-profit organizations that employ a Community Economic Development (CED) model.
B. Work with agencies funded through the NPO strategy to establish a clear process for renewing multi-year funding agreements, which would include providing a year’s notice of renewal decisions to ensure agencies have sufficient time to plan for ongoing operational sustainability.
C. Extend the length of funding agreements from the current three years to a maximum of five years and include cost of living increases on an annual basis.
Budget 2015 expands the NPO Strategy beyond the current 35 organizations to include more provincially-funded non profits – providing multi-year, multi-departmental agreements that allow community agencies to focus more time on serving Manitobans in need, and less time applying and re-applying for funding.
6. Food Security
A. Invest $160,000 annually in a Manitoba food strategy and action plan with implementation oversight by a Food Policy Council composed of relevant stakeholders.
Budget 2015 did not invest in a Manitoba food strategy and action plan. Rather it announces the development of a retail food subsidy to offset the costs of healthy foods in 10 of Manitoba’s most remote communities, including several First Nations communities. It also provides a $200,000 funding increase to new and existing school nutrition programs for children who need it most.
7. Co-operative Development
A. Allocate the required resources to co-produce the second five-year Co-op Visioning Strategy in full partnership with the co-op sector.
Budget 2015 enables the government and the cooperative community to build on strengthening the co-op sector with funding of up to $1 million over the next four years for the second phase of the cooperative community strategy.
The second phase of the Co-op Visioning Strategy will proceed as a partnership between the Province and the co-operative sector to:
- create supportive policy and a financial environment for existing co-operatives and further co-oeprative development,
- improve infrastructure supports and services,
- secure financial and human resources needed to sustain the strategy, and
- engage in awareness building around the values and principles of co-operatives.