EIA recipient budgets may be clawed back with incoming Federal Carbon Rebates

Some of the lowest income Manitobans are at risk of having their federal Carbon Action Incentive rebates clawed back by the provincial government. Make Poverty History Manitoba has asked Families Minister, Heather Stefanson to amend the Manitoba Assistance regulation so that households on Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) receive their Climate Action Incentive Payments when they file their taxes.

This year, the federal government will begin distributing carbon tax rebates to households, based on their 2018 taxes – approximately $339 for a family of four. However, these payments are not currently on a list of exempted income sources the department uses in calculating financial need. As a result, the rebates could be taken back dollar for dollar from EIA checks this spring.

“Families on Employment and Income Assistance count on every dollar to meet basic needs. While the basic needs budget for EIA recipients has hardly increased over the last two decades, the government has not committed to ensuring that low-income Manitobans receive federal rebates,” said Michael Barkman, chair of Make Poverty History Manitoba, “With price of fuel and heating going up due to the carbon action incentive, federal rebates are critical.”

In a response to a Make Poverty History Manitoba letter, Heather Stefanson last month confirmed her department is looking at the matter, but did not commit to amending the regulation.

The Government of Canada expects incremental costs of food and other consumer goods costs to add up to $233 per household on average, though these costs will vary depending on geography, income, household fuel type, and means of transportation. This will be offset by the Climate Action Incentive rebate.

“Make Poverty History Manitoba supports action on climate change, especially since the effects of global warming will be felt most severely by vulnerable and low-income households and communities in Manitoba and across the world,” continued Barkman, “The climate action incentive payments are essential for low income households in particular to weather the costs of action on climate change. In order for the costs of climate action to be borne fairly, Manitoba must ensure that the lowest income households, including those on EIA, have access to incentive payments to adjust to their increased household costs resulting from carbon taxes.”