While speaking today at Cities Reducing Poverty: When Mayor’s Lead, Mayor Brian Bowman announced a new initiative called ‘The Winnipeg Promise’. This new initiative will create a steering committee comprising local leaders in Winnipeg who are dedicated to finding the best way to remove barriers currently preventing low income families and children from accessing the Canada Learning Bond.

“The Canada Learning Bond provides a tremendous opportunity to make a difference in the lives of low-income children,” said Mayor Bowman. “This valuable program is extremely under-utilized by low-income families, largely due to a number of barriers that prevent access. The steering committee being created will be committed to finding ways to remove these barriers and open up access to existing post-secondary education funding.”

The steering committee will consist of:

•    Connie Walker (President & CEO, United Way)
•    Diane Roussin (Executive Director, Winnipeg Boldness Project)
•    Cindy Coker (Executive Director, SEED)
•    Jamie Wilson (Founder and Principal Consultant, Jamie Wilson & Associates)
•    Dave Angus (President and CEO, Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce)
•    Dr. Annette Trimbee (President & Vice-Chancellor, University of Winnipeg)
•    Real Cloutier (Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority)
•    Pauline Clark (Chief Superintendent, Winnipeg School Division)
•    Don Leitch (President & CEO, Business Council of Manitoba)

Stephen Huddart, President and CEO, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, and May Wong, the Omega Foundation, have agreed to support the steering committee in advisory roles.

“The Winnipeg Promise is the first time a mayor and civic leaders in Canada have rallied around the cause of making sure that every child who is eligible for a Canada Learning Bond receives one,” said Stephen Huddart. “It is of particular relevance to Indigenous children who are underrepresented in receiving this benefit and we hope it serves as a model for the rest of Canada,” said Huddart.

The steering committee will build on the important work undertaken by the Winnipeg Boldness Project and other organizations.  The Winnipeg Boldness Project is a social initiative working towards improving the wellbeing of children and families in the Point Douglas neighbourhood.

Parents in Point Douglas have identified education as a priority, and access to higher education has been identified as a determinant of health and successful futures for individuals, families, and communities.

The Winnipeg Boldness Project has assessed the Canada Learning Bond as a potential leveraging opportunity for families in Point Douglas, and it became the first Proof of Possibility to be reviewed through the Project’s social lab process. It identified many different barriers that families experience in accessing the Canada Learning Bond including not having a birth certificate, a lengthy registration process, a lack of trust, or social isolation.

In Point Douglas, a significant gap exists between the number of children eligible to receive the Canada Learning Bond and those who have actually accessed it. Currently, only about 3,300 children access the Canada Learning Bond out of over12,000 eligible children. Closing this gap would allow access to an additional $17.4 million to help fund post-secondary education.

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.

For more information on the Canada Learning Bond <<click here>>

For more information about the Winnipeg Boldness Project <<click here>>