Welfare in Canada

Manitoba

Last updated: December 2021
Revised: May 2022

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 that qualify for basic social assistance payments also qualify for:

  • Recurring additional social assistance payments from the province;
  • Federal child benefits (for households with children); and
  • Federal tax credits or benefits.

Together, these combine 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. In 2020, these households were also eligible for benefits introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The table below shows the value of the welfare income components of the four example household types in Manitoba in 2020. All four households are assumed to be living in Winnipeg. The child in the single parent family is two years old and the children in the couple household are ten and 15. COVID-19 pandemic-related payments are included in the basic social assistance, child benefit, and tax credit/benefits amounts, where applicable.

Components of welfare incomes, 2020

Note: Totals may not add up due to rounding.

Total annual welfare incomes in 2020 ranged from $10,079 for the unattached single considered employable to $33,289 for the couple with two children. The unattached single with a disability received $13,727 and the single parent with one child received $24,379.

Basic social assistance: Monthly basic social assistance benefit amounts remained unchanged in 2020. The unattached single with a disability benefited from a one-time COVID-19 pandemic payment of $200 from Manitoba’s Disability Economic Support Program.

Additional social assistance: Unlike all other jurisdictions in Canada, all four households received more in additional social assistance benefits than they received in basic social assistance benefit amounts, primarily because support for housing costs was delivered through Manitoba’s Rent Assist program. In July 2020, Rent Assist benefits were increased for all households receiving social assistance, except unattached singles considered employable under age 55. The unattached single with a disability also 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 ten-year-old and $100 for the 15-year-old. These amounts remained unchanged in 2020.

Federal child benefits: Both households with children received the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), which increased with inflation in July 2020 from $553.25 to $563.75 per month for a child under six years of age and from $466.83 to $475.67 per month for a child aged six to 17. In addition, they received a one-time COVID-19 pandemic-related CCB top-up payment of $300 per child in May.

Provincial child benefits: Neither of the example households with children received the Manitoba Child Benefit because parents receiving social assistance in Manitoba are not eligible.

Federal tax credits / benefits: All four households received the GST/HST credit, which increased in July 2020 with inflation. The unattached single considered employable and the unattached single with a disability both received $293, while the single parent with one child received $586 and the couple with two children received $894. The unattached single also received $0.72 through the GST/HST credit supplement, while the unattached single with a disability received $53.80, and the single parent with one child received the full $154 amount.

A one-time COVID-19 pandemic-related GST/HST credit top-up payment, delivered in April 2020, provided the basic amount of $290 to both the unattached single considered employable and the unattached single with a disability. The single parent with one child received $733 and the couple with two children received $886.

All four households also received the new federal climate action incentive (CAI) payment. The unattached single considered employable and the unattached single with a disability received the basic CAI payment amount for Manitoba of $243. The single parent with one child received the basic amount plus the single parent’s qualified dependant amount of $121, for a total of $364. The couple with two children received the basic amount, a spousal amount of $121, and the qualified dependant amount of $61 for each child, for a total of $486.

Provincial tax credits / benefits: No provincial tax credits or benefits were available to the example households in 2020.

COVID-19 pandemic-related payments

All pandemic-related payments available to the example Manitoba households came from federal programs (i.e., the GST/HST credit and Canada Child Benefit) except for the $200 provincial payment for the unattached single with a disability. In total, the unattached single considered employable received $290, the unattached single with a disability received $490, the single parent with one child received $1,033 and the couple with two children received $1,486. These amounts are included in, and are not in addition to, the benefits described in the Components section above.

COVID-19 pandemic-related payments, 2020

 

Changes to welfare incomes

The graphs below show how the total welfare incomes for each of the four example household types in Manitoba have changed over time. Note that the values are in 2020 constant dollars, and not in nominal dollars. This takes into account the effect of inflation as measured by the national consumer price index, given that inflation reduces real dollar values over time.

After peaking in 1992, the welfare incomes of the unattached single considered employable and the unattached single with a disability steadily declined until the mid-2000s. Increases that began in 2013, primarily due to enhancements in Manitoba’s Rent Assist program, continued until 2016 when incomes began to level out. A slight decrease in 2018 in the income of the unattached single considered employable was not mirrored in the income of the unattached single with a disability.

Increases between 2019 and 2020 were due primarily to the new federal climate action incentive benefit and to COVID-19 pandemic-related payments.

In 2020, the unattached single considered employable received $10,079 and the unattached single with a disability received $13,727, both of which are below the 1992 peak.

As was the case for single people, the total welfare incomes of households with children were high in the early 1990s, followed by a decline into the 2000s, and slight fluctuations through the mid-2010s. Increases began in 2015, and while incomes were flat between 2017 and 2019, they increased again in 2020, primarily due to federal COVID-19 pandemic payments.

The 2020 welfare income of the single parent with one child was $24,379, while that of the couple with two children was $33,289. These are both the highest across the time series.

Adequacy of welfare incomes

The adequacy of a household’s total welfare income can be assessed by comparing it to a set threshold of poverty and/or low income.

In Canada, there are two commonly used measures of poverty:

  • Canada’s Official Poverty Line, 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.
  • Deep Income Poverty (MBM-DIP) identifies households whose disposable income is less than 75 per cent of the MBM.

There are also two commonly used measures of low income:

  • The Low Income Measure (LIM) identifies households whose income is substantially below what is typical in society (less than half of the median income).
  • 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.

Note that MBM thresholds vary by province and community size, and LICO thresholds vary by community size, and so those for Winnipeg are used in the analysis below. As well, both the MBM and LIM thresholds are estimates based on increasing the 2019 thresholds to account for inflation.

Note also that none of the poverty or low-income measures currently in use in Canada account for the higher cost of living faced by persons with disabilities, and thus these additional costs are not reflected in our analysis.

More information about the thresholds is available in the methodology section.

A table containing comparisons of the welfare incomes of the four example household types in Manitoba with all four poverty / low-income thresholds is available for download.

Poverty threshold comparisons

The figures below compare 2020 welfare incomes for the four example household types to the MBM and MBM-DIP thresholds for Winnipeg.

The welfare incomes of all four example household types in Manitoba were below Canada’s Official Poverty Line in 2020, meaning all these households were living in poverty. Three were living in deep poverty in 2020, as defined by the MBM-DIP, while one was slightly above deep poverty.

The unattached single considered employable had the lowest income relative to the poverty thresholds. Their income was $6,957 below the deep income poverty threshold and $12,635 below the poverty line. This means their income was only 59 per cent of the MBM-DIP and only 44 per cent of the MBM.

The unattached single with a disability fared better, with an income that was $3,309 below the deep income poverty threshold and $8,987 below the poverty line. In other words, their income was 81 per cent of the MBM-DIP and 60 per cent of the MBM.

Note that the poverty experienced by persons with disabilities is under-represented, given that neither the MBM nor the MBM-DIP account for the additional costs of disability.

The incomes of households with children were comparable to each other and, relative to the poverty thresholds, higher than those of single people.

The income of the single parent with one child was the only one of the example households with a welfare income above the deep income poverty threshold. Their income was $287 above that threshold but remained below the poverty line by $7,744. In other words, their income was 101 per cent of the MBM-DIP but 76 per cent of the MBM.

The income of the couple with two children was $783 below the deep income poverty threshold and $12,140 below the poverty line. This means their income was 98 per cent of the MBM-DIP and 73 per cent of the MBM.

Low-income threshold comparisons

The welfare incomes of these households were also below, and in some instances lower than half of, the low-income thresholds, as shown in the table linked above.

The lowest income relative to the thresholds was that of the unattached single considered employable, whose total welfare income was only 40 per cent of the LIM and 46 per cent of the LICO. The highest was that of the single parent with one child, whose welfare income was 68 per cent of the LIM and 91 per cent of the LICO.

The unattached single with a disability had an income of only 54 per cent of the LIM and 62 per cent of the LICO. The income of the couple with two children was 66 per cent of the LIM and 80 per cent of the LICO.

Changes to adequacy of welfare incomes

The graph below shows the total welfare incomes of each of the four example household types in Manitoba since 2002 as a percentage of the MBM, which indicates changes in their level of poverty over time. A rise in the trendline indicates an improvement in their level of poverty while a decline indicates a worsening of the level of their poverty.

Note that the MBM thresholds reflect the base in use in each year in question (i.e., the 2000, 2008, and 2018 bases; the latter two are indicated with vertical lines in each graph). Rebasing creates a sufficiently higher threshold than that using a previous base, which typically results in a worsening of poverty in the year in which the new base is used. As noted above, MBM thresholds vary by province and community size, and so Winnipeg is used. Also note that the 2020 MBM thresholds are estimates. More information is in the methodology section.

The welfare income of the unattached single considered employable was lowest relative to the poverty line and increased only slightly over the time series. Their income hovered at around the 43 per cent mark between 2002 and 2014 followed by four years of improvements between 2014 and 2017, at which point their income was 52 per cent of the poverty line. The 2018 rebasing of the MBM saw a reversal to 44 per cent. Another decline in 2019 was followed by an improvement in 2020, at which point their income was 44 per cent of the poverty line.

The welfare income of the unattached single with a disability mostly declined between 2002 and 2020 relative to the poverty line. A slight decline between 2002 and 2007, from 67 to 65 per cent of the poverty line, was followed by a more significant decline to 60 percent with the 2008 rebasing of the MBM. The low point of 56 per cent was reached in 2012 and 2013, afterward gradually increasing to 66 per cent in 2017, before another sharp decline to 56 per cent with the 2018 MBM rebasing. After one year of stagnation, their income in 2020 rose to 60 per cent of the poverty line.

After hovering at around 72 per cent of the poverty line from 2000 to 2007, the welfare income of the single parent with one child declined to 67 per cent with the 2008 MBM rebasing. The low point of 61 per cent was reached in 2012 and 2013, followed by significant improvements, to highs of 81 per cent in 2016 and 83 per cent in 2017. Another decline with the 2018 MBM rebasing, to 70 per cent in both 2018 and 2019, was followed by 2020’s increase to 76 per cent of the poverty line.

The welfare income of the couple with two children generally fared best relative to the poverty line among the four example households between 2002 and 2016. Their income increased between 2002 and 2004, from 73 to 78 per cent of the poverty line, slightly decreased until 2007, and then dropped to 67 per cent with the 2008 rebasing of the MBM. The low point of 63 per cent in 2013 and 2014 was followed by significant improvements between 2015 and 2017, to a high of 81 per cent of the poverty line. However, this progress was undone with the rebasing of the MBM in 2018, at which point, and for one year thereafter, their income was 68 per cent of the poverty line.  Improvements in 2020 saw their income increase to 73 per cent of the poverty line.