Increase EIA by $300 per person for COVID-19 – Q&A

Make Poverty History Manitoba has been calling for an immediate increase to EIA by $300 per person, per month for the duration of the pandemic. Basic needs are essential at all times, especially during a crisis, that’s why we have been strong on this call.

So far, many Manitobans have signed on to show their support. Show yours by signing on to the petition below!

And, there has been lots of questions and discussion about why our coalition has been making this call. Read more below for answers to frequently asked questions:

Q. Why should EIA recipients receive an emergency benefit during COVID-19? They haven’t lost any income.

A. EIA recipients have not lost any income during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they are dealing with an increase in expenses. Here are a few examples:

  • EIA recipients receive very little for food and other basic needs. Most rely on the charity of foodbanks and soup kitchens to get by, but these emergency services are not able to meet the need right now. It is also more difficult to stretch the meagre food allowance that EIA provides at $3.96/ day. EIA recipients are very resourceful—they know where to find the best deals—but just like everyone else they are shopping close to home, doing their best to stop the spread. This means higher costs.
  • Kids are at home, and that means higher costs. Many kids living in poverty are able to access meal programs at their school or childcare provider. This is not an option right now.
  • EIA recipients do not receive an allowance for telephone costs. Having access to a telephone is a basic need right during this time when people are confined to their homes.
  • Access to the internet has become a basic need during COVID-19.
    • EIA does not provide an allowance for WiFi. Kids are home from school and in many cases, they need access to the internet to do their schoolwork. Many households don’t even have a computer. Kids living in poverty are already at a disadvantage. We don’t want them to fall further behind.
    • Mental health professions emphasize the importance of staying connected with family, friends and other supports. Access to WiFi provides an important link to support networks and information.

Q: Aren’t individuals needs covered by the existing EIA budget?

A: Currently, individuals receive $195 for basic needs, $576 from Rent Assist, and a GST credit of $24 per month for a total of $784 per month. This amount does not adequately cover basic needs, including resources that community services usually provide, but have ceased because of the pandemic. An increase would allow households to purchase their necessities.

The Federal government Canada Employment Response Benefit (CERB) provides individuals with $2000 month if they have lost income due to COVID-19. While some may be eligible for the CERB, an individual on EIA receives $784 a month. This is not enough to purchase the essentials.

Premier Pallister says income supports is the responsibility of the federal government. The federal government is responsible for employment insurance and it has expanded support through the CERB. Provincial governments are responsible for social assistance.

Q: Has the Manitoba government announced any new financial supports for EIA recipients given the increase in financial need during the pandemic?

A: No.  Other provinces have acknowledged the increase in need and are providing emergency social assistance to respond to COVID (examples, B.C. at $300/month). Manitoba has not done so. In recent years the provincial government cut benefits to single adults on assistance by cutting the $25 monthly job seeker’s allowance in 2019 and the Rent Assist monthly shelter benefit.

To learn more about our campaign for an immediate Employment & Income Assistance increase here.



Take More Action!

Contact the Premier of Manitoba, the Minister of Families, and your MLA to let them know your support for this call. Learn more here.