Slipping through the cracks : Manitoba's working poor and the social security system

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Sosiak, Michael P.
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The objective of this thesis is to examine the income situation of the working poor in the province of Manitoba and to analyze the social welfare programs which are currently in use, or which could be used, to assist this group. We follow three main themes. First, we examine what is currently being done on a provincial level to assist the working poor and the efficacy of such programs. Second, this group is identified as to their median income and various demographic characteristics. This will point out not only the relative severity of the income deficiency faced by the working poor, but also help determine which sub-groups predominate within the working poor (ie. female vs. male, families vs. single individuals, the aged vs. youth). Finally, through an examination of a few possible alternatives, the most appropriate method of supplementing the working poor's incomes is determined. These methods will be discussed within the current, and possible future, context of federal transfers for social assistance through the Canada Assistance Plan. Through this analysis, we have come to the conclusion that the current social assistance systems, due to problems associated with the categorical nature of the various programs, is inadequately serving the purpose of alleviating poverty amongst a relatively large subset of Manitoba's working population. As such, we propose a move towards a more comprehensive plan based upon the guaranteed annual income concept. While such a plan might incur a considerable short term expense to the provincial government, it would be much more efficient at delivering income support to all sub-groups within the working poor. Based on the work of previous studies, it has also not been found in to have the substantial work disincentives which are usually the major criticism of this type of plan. The author therefore suggests that further research be undertaken to devise an efficient and effective method of implementing a guaranteed annual income in Manitoba