The Manitoba government is providing $32 million over three years to ensure ongoing dental care for Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) recipients and children in care. And, a $20-million endowment fund is set to help those on assistance regain their independence through employment, Families Minister Rochelle Squires announced on April 21.
“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,” said Squires.
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, in which the province covers a portion of the costs. The province is providing more than $32 million to extend the agreement for an additional three years, further protecting vulnerable Manitobans by ensuring continued dental care.
“Oral health care is a critical basic health-care 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, 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.”
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 those choosing work.
The province is also helping EIA recipients to gain employment through a $20-million endowment fund to be managed by the Winnipeg Foundation. The fund will provide annual revenue, distributed as grants, to community partners/agencies to help EIA recipients find employment. 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.
Applications for the grants are expected to open in 2022, the minister said, adding the Manitoba government will first consult stakeholders, research grant and employment support programs in other jurisdictions, and develop evidence-based eligibility and selection criteria.
The province will continue to lift Manitobans out of poverty by ensuring safe and affordable housing and by strengthening social services, supported by a nearly $34-million increase for the Department of Families announced earlier this month as part of Budget 2021, the minister noted. This increase includes nearly $2 million to pilot three new workforce training and support programs for EIA clients.