CBC Manitoba

Fighting Poverty

It is estimated it would cost $516-million a year to bring every poor person in Manitoba above the poverty line and technically eliminate poverty in this province. This cost represents about 1.1 percent of the overall provincial economy.

Manitoba says it currently spends about $744-million a year on anti-poverty initiatives. This includes support for community development, which is hailed as the most effective solution to the conditions that create poverty among us. Some experts suggest organizations such as the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, the West Women's Central Resource Centre, and the Urban Circle Training Centre among many others, are preventing a more serious collapse of the social fabric.

Perspectives

How successful are we at addressing poverty in Manitoba, and what more needs to be done?

Read what leaders, stakeholders and anti-poverty activists have to say.

Check back often for more perspectives on poverty from Manitobans in-the-know.

Rod Bruinoog- MP for Winnipeg South, Chair of the Conservative Aboriginal Caucus and Post-Secondary Education Caucus

Rod Bruinooge

Poverty affects all of us; it deprives us all of reaching our full potential. It limits individual growth and, in turn, the growth and development of strong communities. In order to effectively address and prevent poverty, Government has to provide people with reasonable opportunities to achieve an independent and productive life. Part of that means improving the conditions for which the private sector can operate. A low tax environment, for example, attracts business and provides economic opportunities.

Addressing poverty also means offering the tools people need to succeed, such as a quality education. As Chair of both the Conservative Aboriginal Caucus and Post-Secondary Education Caucus, I see a very real need in Manitoba to improve First Nations’ access to quality education.

Many Aboriginal students have to leave their communities for high school which causes an increase in drop-out rates. Graduation rates for kids on reserve are far lower than off and this results in relatively few First Nation students making it to college or university. We all recognize the strong links between access to high-quality education and success later in life. The current situation feeds a cycle of poverty that governments must better address.

First Nations education is a complicated and often inefficient overlap of jurisdictions. The federal government funds education for students on reserves and the provincial government funds most students off reserve. Historically, the federal government hasn’t done a very good job relative to the provinces in delivering K to 12 education. What I have proposed is more provincial involvement in administering education on reserves, and ensuring First Nation schools adhere to provincial standards while including cultural elements in their curriculum.

The federal and provincial governments, along with Aboriginal stakeholders, need to work together to develop a new model that will improve educational outcomes for First Nations. I have openly advocated for this type of model and recommended that some additional federal cash incentives should be provided for provinces that are willing to create a tripartite relationship.

Thankfully, there are examples of progress on this front. In 2008, The School Improvement Project was created to improve educational outcomes for First Nations children here in Manitoba. The project was led by the Manitoba First Nation Education Resource Centre which partnered with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, the Southern Chiefs Organization, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and the Province of Manitoba.

Participating schools received assistance in key areas, such as administration and professional development. Student achievement was monitored closely and the results will be used to decide future actions. INAC has expressed interest in continuing the project, and I would support a decision to do so.

Improving education outcomes is crucial to poverty reduction. All partners must work together to ensure that First Nations, and all of Manitoba’s young people, get the education they need to secure stable, fulfilling jobs and contribute to their communities. A successful poverty-reduction strategy is one that gives people opportunities to become self-sufficient and move out of poverty. We have to help people get past the welfare wall, help people build capital, and help ensure the next generation isn’t born into poverty. Without those types of interventions, the cycle will continue unabated.