Winnipeg, MB – The collaborative effort behind the Winnipeg Promise has led to new initiatives to assist families in accessing funding for post-secondary education, Mayor Brian Bowman announced today to kick off Education Savings Week this week.
Launched last year by Mayor Bowman, the Winnipeg Promise brought together local leaders across Winnipeg dedicated to finding ways to remove barriers currently preventing low and modest income families from accessing the Canada Learning Bond.
“I want to thank the many community leaders participating in the Winnipeg Promise,” said Mayor Bowman. “Our work has been truly collaborative, and today we are able to announce small steps that can make a tremendous difference in the lives of many children and families.”
Mayor Bowman said the new initiatives are aimed at promoting the value that the Canada Learning Bond can have, assisting families with applying for the funding, and reducing key barriers preventing families from being able to apply for and receive funding through the Canada Learning Bond.
“Simply knowing money is available to help fund a child’s future education can make a positive impact on families and can give both parents and children hope for the future,” said Mayor Bowman.
New initiatives announced today include:
- A commitment by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) – to better support and encourage parents to apply for the identification they need to sign up for the Canada Learning Bond, while in the hospital for the birth of a child;
- A Canada Learning Bond Open House – where families can get a social insurance number for their child, and apply in-person for the Canada Learning Bond; and
- A new City of Winnipeg website winnipeg.ca/CLB – allowing families to start applying for the Canada Learning Bond online.
“We know that education and income are important determinants of good health. Increasing access to the Canada Learning Bond has the potential to improve health outcomes of future generations,” said Réal Cloutier, Interim President and CEO, WRHA. “We want to support and encourage parents to access the benefits and opportunities that improve health and well-being.”
The Canada Learning Bond Open House is scheduled to take place at David Livingstone School in the Winnipeg School Division on Wednesday January 17th, 2018, from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
“We are honoured to host this Open House in support of helping families plan for their children’s future,” said Pauline Clarke, Chief Superintendent of Winnipeg School Division and Winnipeg Promise partner. “Winnipeg School Division’s purpose is to give children the tools and support they need to achieve their educational goals, and by providing parents with this early planning initiative, we are building a brighter future for our students.”
Several Winnipeg Promise partners, together with financial institutions as well as Service Canada, have combined efforts to make the Open House possible.
SEED Winnipeg, a local community-based organization and Winnipeg Promise partner, as well as Employment and Income Assistance representatives will be available at the Open House to help families apply for birth certificates for children who do not have this important piece of identification. A birth certificate is required in order to receive a social insurance number, and a social insurance number is required in order to apply for the Canada Learning Bond.
“Through our work helping low income families access benefits and open bank accounts, we’ve found that identification, especially birth certificates, can be a big barrier for families” said Jenn Bogoch Manager, Asset Building Programs SEED Winnipeg. “By helping families access identification and benefits, we are helping create a stable foundation for learning.”
The Winnipeg Boldness Project, a Winnipeg Promise partner, will be working with community-based organizations in the Point Douglas neighbourhood to help families attend, and two private sector Winnipeg Promise partners, Dave Angus and Don Leitch, are assisting a fundraising effort to help cover the cost of birth certificates, a key barrier for low income families.
“Through our work around the Canada Learning Bond we found that the number one barrier to enrolment was a lack of necessary identification” said Diane Roussin, Project Director with the Winnipeg Boldness project. “Making the sign-up process easier and more user-friendly, and helping with things like ID can help break down barriers, and ultimately make things better for families and kids in our community.”
“The Manitoba Business Council has long advocated that improving access to higher education for all children in our province is the key to ensuring they can succeed and become full participants in our community,” said Don Leitch, President & CEO of the Manitoba Business Council. “We are pleased to support this initiative to help families build a financial base for their children’s education.”
Service Canada will be onsite to provide social insurance numbers for families and financial institutions will have representatives available to help families apply for the Canada Learning Bond and set up a Registered Education Plan Savings Account.
In addition to the Open House, a new City of Winnipeg website, winnipeg.ca/CLB, has been created allowing families to start applying for the Canada Learning Bond online as well as access other important information and support.
The Canada Learning Bond was introduced in 2004 to help low-income families save for their children’s education. The Canada Learning Bond is a grant of up to $2000 that the federal government deposits into a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) to which families can also add their own funds.
Manitoba is well below the Canadian average when it comes to accessing the Canada Learning Bond. In 2015, only 30,355 out of an eligible 129,205 children received the Canada Learning Bond representing a provincial participation rate of just 23.5% and a cumulative loss to Manitoba families of over $197 million if each eligible child received the maximum $2,000.
Winnipeg Promise partners such as SEED and Winnipeg Boldness and other community organizations have been working in Winnipeg to sign-up families, and Winnipeg participation rates are improving in the city, rising to 37.1% in 2016, from 34.3% in 2015.
The Mayor noted the Winnipeg Promise seeks to build on these efforts, and thanked Stephen Huddart and May Wong who have been providing important support in an advisory role to the Winnipeg Promise.
“The Winnipeg Promise is the first time at a civic level that leaders have come together to find ways to ensure children eligible for a Canada Learning Bond receive one, and we couldn’t have done this without the support and guidance of Stephen and May,” said Mayor Bowman.