Welfare in Canada

Last updated: November 2020

This resource is not intended to help individuals identify what government transfers they could be entitled to. Individuals living in Manitoba seeking financial assistance should visit this page.

Components of welfare incomes

In Manitoba, households in that qualify for basic social assistance payments also qualify for other financial support, including:

  • Recurring additional social assistance payments (for example, an annual back-to-school allowance);
  • Federal child benefits (for households with children);
  • The GST/HST credit and credit supplements; and
  • Provincial tax credits or benefits.

Together, these combine with basic social assistance payments to form a household’s total welfare income. Households may receive less if they have income from other sources, or more if they have special health- or disability-related needs.

The table below shows the value and components of welfare incomes for four example household types in 2019. All four households are assumed to be living in Winnipeg. The child in the single parent family is aged two, and the children in the couple household are aged 10 and 15.

 Single person considered employableSingle person with a disabilitySingle parent, one childCouple, two children
Basic social assistance$2,440$3,977$4,992$8,405
Additional SA benefits$6,912$8,334$10,062$10,222
Federal child benefits  $6,568$11,083
Provincial child benefits    
GST/HST credit$287$340$725$876
Provincial tax credits/benefits    
Total 2019 income$9,639$12,650$22,347$30,586

Note: Totals may not add up due to rounding.

Download the data in a table

Total annual welfare incomes in 2019 ranged from $9,639 for a single person considered employable to $30,586 for a couple with two children.

Basic social assistance benefit amounts in 2019 remained unchanged from 2018. At the end of April 2019, the $25 per month Job Seekers’ Allowance, which was paid to the single person considered employable, was discontinued; only four months of the allowance are included in the 2019 income calculations.

All four households received more in additional social assistance benefits than through the basic benefit amounts, unlike in other jurisdictions in Canada. This is primarily because support for housing costs was delivered through Manitoba’s Rent Assist program. In July 2019, Rent Assist benefits were increased for all households receiving social assistance, except single persons considered employable aged under 55.

The single person with a disability received the Income Assistance for Persons with Disabilities benefit of $1,260 ($105 per month) and the couple with two children received the annual School Supplies Allowance of $60 for the 10-year-old and $100 for the 15-year-old.

Both households with children received the Canada Child Benefit, which increased with inflation in July 2019 from $541 to $553.25 per month for a child under 6 years of age and from $457 to $466.83 per month for a child aged 6 to 17. Neither household received the Manitoba Child Benefit because parents receiving social assistance in Manitoba are not eligible.

All four households received the GST/HST credit, which increased in July 2019 with inflation. The single person considered employable and the single person with a disability both received $287, while the single parent with one child received $574 and the couple with two children received $876. The single person with a disability also received $52.63 through the GST/HST credit supplement while the single parent received the full amount of $151.

No provincial tax credits or benefits were available to households on social assistance in Manitoba in 2019.

 

Changes to welfare incomes

The graphs below show how the total welfare incomes for each of the four example household types have changed over time. The values are in constant 2019 dollars, taking into account the effect of inflation as measured by the national consumer price index.

Download the data in a table

  • After peaking in 1992, the welfare incomes of a single person considered employable and a single person with a disability steadily declined between the early 1990s and the mid-2000s.

  • Incomes increased between 2013 and 2016, primarily due to enhancements in Manitoba’s Rent Assist program. Since 2016, income has remained flat for a single person with a disability and decreased for a single person considered employable.

  • In 2019, a single person considered employable received $9,639 and a single person with a disability received $12,650, both of which are significantly below the 1992 peak.

Download the data in a table

  • Welfare incomes for households with children peaked in the early 1990s, declined into the 2000s, fluctuated through the mid-2010s, and then increased starting in 2015. Since 2017, incomes have remained flat.

  • The 2019 welfare income of a single parent with one child was $22,347, the highest in the series. For a couple with two children it was $30,586.

 

Adequacy of welfare incomes

The adequacy of a household’s total welfare income can be assessed by comparing it to a set threshold of low income. In Canada, there are three commonly used measures:

  1. The official poverty measure, the Market Basket Measure (MBM), identifies households whose disposable income is less than the cost of a basket of goods and services that represent a basic standard of living.
  2. The Low Income Measure (LIM) identifies households whose income is substantially below what is typical in society (less than half of the median income).
  3. The Low Income Cut-Off (LICO) identifies households that are likely to spend a disproportionately large share of their income on the necessities of food, clothing, and shelter.

The table below shows how welfare incomes for the four example household types compared to the three low-income thresholds (after tax). Because LICO and MBM thresholds vary by community size, the threshold used for each is for Winnipeg.​

 Single person considered employableSingle person with a disabilitySingle parent, one childCouple, two children
Total welfare income$9,639$12,650$22,347$30,586
MBM    
MBM threshold (Winnipeg)$22,527$22,527$31,858$45,054
Welfare income minus MBM threshold-$12,888-$9,877-$9,512-$14,468
Welfare income as % of MBM43%56%70%68%
LIM    
LIM threshold (Canada-wide)$24,642$24,642$34,850$49,285
Welfare income minus LIM threshold-$15,003-$11,992-$12,503-$18,699
Welfare income as % of LIM39%51%64%62%
LICO    
LICO threshold (Winnipeg)$21,899$21,899$26,653$41,406
Welfare income minus LICO threshold-$12,260-$9,246-$4,307-$10,820
Welfare income as % of LICO44%58%84%74%

Download the data in a table

The maximum 2019 welfare incomes of all four example household types were below, and sometimes far below, the thresholds of every low-income measure. Households with children had incomes closer to the thresholds than single persons.

The lowest income relative to the thresholds was that of a single person considered employable, whose income was between 39 and 44 per cent of the low-income thresholds. The highest was that of a single parent with one child, whose income was between 64 and 84 per cent of the thresholds. A single person with a disability had an income of about half of the thresholds, and a couple with two children had an income of between 62 and 74 per cent of the thresholds.

Given that the MBM is Canada’s official poverty measure, and that having an income less than 75 per cent of the MBM is classified as “deep poverty,” all four of the example households would have been living in deep poverty in 2019.

Return to top