Premier Brian Pallister has announced $4.6 million for Manitobans living with disabilities to help offset added costs due to the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 23,000 Manitobans already receive monthly benefits under the disability category of employment and income assistance. Under the new disability economic support program, each of them will be mailed a $200 cheque in early June for one-time support, Pallister said.
The payment will not be considered taxable income and will not affect any other benefits received.
“COVID-19 is creating new challenges and causing financial difficulties for some of our province’s most vulnerable people,” Pallister said.
“Manitobans living with disabilities may be facing additional costs to adjust to the new realities of daily life during the pandemic.”
Asked how the province arrived at the $200 amount, Pallister called it a guess, saying he wanted to get the support out as soon as possible.
“Going and doing the analysis 20,000 times is going to do nothing but delay [the help],” he said.
He doesn’t know if it’s the right amount but said it’ll help.
Each cheque will include a letter signed by Pallister, as was done when the province sent out $200 cheques for seniors.
Asked to respond to criticisms that he’s politicizing the financial supports, Pallister said that kind of political move happens shortly before an election, not months after a government was elected.
“It’s a pretty weak case to say we’re doing it for politics when the next election is years away,” he said. The Progressive Conservatives won a solid majority in September 2019 so there’s no need to politicize anything, he said.
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