Mayoral Forum on Hunger and Poverty

22/10/2018

Mayoral candidate Doug Wilson (right) speaks at an election forum, focusing on poverty in the city, at the University of Winnipeg Wednesday.  JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

On October 17, Winnipeg Harvest partnered with  Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Manitoba OfficeWest Central Women’s Resource CentreMake Poverty History Manitoba and the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg to host an all-candidates forum focused on the issues of hunger and poverty in Winnipeg.

This was my first time being part of an event like this and I was happy to see that it was well-attended by both the public and the candidates—more than 150 Winnipeggers came out to be part of the evening and six of the eight mayoral candidates made their cases. I also owe a thank-you to Mary Agnes Welch for moderating the evening and keeping everyone on track.

A number of traditional media outlets were on site covering the candidates and their responses in addition to all of those watching the live-stream provided by Hue.

With the spotlight turned onto issues of poverty and hunger in Winnipeg, the candidates were asked two questions:

  1. If elected mayor, how would you help support people living with a limited budget?
  2. If elected mayor, how would you champion a Winnipeg Without Poverty and commit to leading the development of a comprehensive poverty reduction plan for Winnipeg with progress indicators with targets and timelines?

A lot of great points were discussed by the candidates in their responses to the questions and in the open questions period in the second half.

  • Homelessness—The need for increased housing. Many options were brought up including infill sites, tiny houses, selling off golf courses to build low-income housing, increases fees for developers to subsidize low-income housing.
  • Low-income bus passes—All but one candidate spoke to the need for a reduced-cost bus pass, with some candidates presenting a vision of free buses in the next five years.
  • Increase the tax base—Most candidates called for the need to grow the population in Winnipeg to take the burden of increased taxes from all taxpayers.
  • Child poverty and education—Some candidates addressed this concern while others felt the provincial government held the primary responsibility for those changes.
  • Basic income—Some candidates brought up the concept of a universal basic income, similar to the programs recently discussed in Ontario.

All the candidates shared the belief that a poverty reduction strategy at all three levels of government is a necessary step to making a lasting change against hunger and poverty.

Poverty is a complex issue that has many facets and no one solution. Whoever is elected mayor, we hope to work closely with them to help ensure we do all we can to alleviate hunger and poverty in Winnipeg and Manitoba.