Welfare in Canada, 2017

Components of welfare incomes

Households that qualify for basic social assistance payments also qualify for other financial support including:

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

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

The table below shows the value and components of welfare incomes for four household types living in Winnipeg in 2017.

 Single person considered employableSingle person with a disabilitySingle parent, one childCouple, two children
Basic social assistance$2,640$3,977$4,992$8,405
Additional SA benefits$6,576$7,836$9,270$9,430
Federal child benefits  $6,400$10,800
Provincial child benefits    
GST credit$278$319$702$848
Provincial tax credits/benefits    
Total 2017 income$9,494$12,132$21,364$29,483

Download the data in a table

Unlike other jurisdictions, in Manitoba the example households received more through additional social assistance programs than through the basic amount. This is principally because financial support for rental costs was delivered through the Rent Assist program (though social assistance recipients received the payment through their basic benefit cheque). In July 2017, Rent Assist benefits for social assistance recipients increased from $533 to $563 a month for the single adult households, and from $758 to $787 a month for the households with children.

Additional benefits also included the Income Assistance for Persons with Disabilities (IAPD) benefit of $105 per month for a single person with a disability, and the annual School Supplies Allowance of $60 for the 10-year-old and $100 for the 15-year-old.

Although Manitoba had a provincial Child Benefit program providing up to $35 per month per child, parents receiving Employment and Income Assistance (social assistance) were not eligible.

Total welfare incomes in Manitoba ranged from $9,494 for a single person considered employable to $29,483 for a couple with two children.

Changes to welfare incomes

There were two changes that affected welfare incomes in Manitoba in 2017. This was the first full year the new Canada Child Benefit was paid, resulting in higher welfare incomes for the two household types with children. Then, in July 2017, Manitoba Rent Assist benefits were increased for all Employment and Income Assistance households, resulting in higher welfare incomes for all household types.

The graphs below show how the total welfare incomes for each of the four illustrative household types have changed over time. The values are in constant 2017 dollars, taking into account the effect of inflation.

Download the data in a table

  • After peaking in 1992, welfare incomes for a single person considered employable and a single person with a disability followed a similar downward trend until the mid-2000s.
  • There have been noteworthy increases in welfare incomes since 2014 for both households, largely due to enhancements to the Manitoba Rent Assist program.
  • In 2017, a single person with a disability received a welfare income of $12,132, and a single person considered employable received $9,494.

Download the data in a table

  • The maximum welfare incomes of households with children started to rise in 2015, as a result of changes to federal child benefits and enhancements to the Manitoba Rent Assist program.
  • For the two decades after 1993, the welfare income of a single parent with one child remained relatively flat. But in 2015 and 2016 it increased substantially, and by 2017 it stood at $21,364, the highest amount over the 31-year period.
  • The welfare income for the couple with two children peaked in 1992 at $31,591 and declined rapidly until the early 2000s. In 2015, their welfare income began to increase substantially and in 2017 stood at $29,483.

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 Market Based Measure of poverty (MBM), which the National Poverty Strategy set as the official poverty measure, 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 of poverty (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 measure (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 in Manitoba for the four household types compared to the three low income thresholds (after tax). The LICO and MBM thresholds are for Winnipeg, the largest city in Manitoba.

 Single person considered employableSingle person with a disabilitySingle parent, one childCouple, two children
Total welfare income$9,494$12,132$21,364$29,483
MBM threshold (Winnipeg)$18,416$18,416$26,043$36,831
Welfare income minus MBM threshold-$8,922-$6,284-$4,679-$7,348
Welfare income as % of MBM52%66%82%80%
LIM threshold (Canada-wide)$23,020$23,020$32,555$46,039
Welfare income minus LIM threshold-$13,526-$10,887-$11,191-$16,556
Welfare income as % of LIM41%53%66%64%
LICO threshold (Winnipeg)$20,998$20,998$25,555$39,701
Welfare income minus LICO threshold-$11,504-$8,866-$4,191-$10,218
Welfare income as % of LICO45%58%84%74%

Download the data in a table

For each household type, the maximum welfare income fell well below all of the low income measures. As a proportion the biggest gap was for single adults considered employable — their welfare income was between 41 and 52 per cent of the low income thresholds. The smallest gap was for the single parent with one child, ranging between 66 and 84 per cent of the low income thresholds.

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