The Manitoba government is providing $32 million over three years to ensure ongoing high-quality dental care for Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) recipients and children in care, while creating a new $20 million endowment fund to help those receiving assistance regain their independence through employment, said Families Minister Rochelle Squires.
“Our government is committed to ensuring vulnerable Manitobans continue to be supported and protected as part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Squires. “The funding supports access to basic dental care for EIA recipients and children in care while recognizing that many Manitobans relying on EIA just need a hand to get back on their feet,” Squires said.
The Manitoba government supports dentists to provide basic dental care to EIA recipients and children in care through a funding agreement with the Manitoba Dental Association, as the province covers a portion of the costs. The $32 million will be used to extend the agreement for an additional three years, ensuring continued dental care, the government said.
“Oral healthcare is a critical basic healthcare need, and we are happy the province has partnered with the dentists of Manitoba to ensure funding is available for dentist-led teams to provide care to recipients of EIA,” said Dr. Christopher J. Cottick, president and board chair of the Manitoba Dental Association.
“This much needed funding helps address issues related to Manitobans’ access to basic dental treatment for children in care, as well as for families and individuals experiencing low income,” said Cottick.
Under the Rewarding Work Health Plan, EIA recipients who have found employment and no longer require income assistance are also eligible for up to 24 months of basic dental care, further removing a barrier for individuals and families choosing work, the government said.
The province also is supporting EIA recipients with assistance in gaining employment through the $20 million endowment fund to be managed by the Winnipeg Foundation. Annual revenue from the fund will be distributed as grants to community partners and agencies to enhance training and opportunities that help EIA recipients find employment and regain their independence.
The minister said these opportunities for assistance could include wage subsidies, work placements, financial and wellness supports, culturally appropriate pre-employment programs, and unique partnerships with employers and community supports.
“Job-specific training for people wanting to enter or return to the workforce is important to their confidence moving forward and this innovative approach will ensure the resources needed to support this training are available for years to come,” said Shawn Mahoney, executive director of Opportunities for Employment.
“We applaud this funding creativity in assisting those receiving Employment and Income Assistance in their journey toward meaningful employment and self-sustainability. Such efforts to help build self-esteem and make the dignity of meaningful work a reality for all,” said Mahoney.
Applications for the grants are expected to open in 2022, the minister said, adding that the Manitoba government will first consult stakeholders, research grant and employment support programs in other jurisdictions, and develop evidence-based eligibility and selection criteria.
This announcement supports the Manitoba government’s focus on a client-centric, assessment-informed approach to financial assistance, the minister said. In addition, she noted, it recognizes that help for Manitobans to gain independence relies on collaboration with multiple levels of government as well as with external stakeholders and service providers.
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