Max Rady College of Medicine

Concept: Employment and Income Assistance (EIA)

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Concept Description

Last Updated: 2020-05-12


    The provincial Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) program is a last resort for people who need help to meet basic personal and family needs. Wherever possible, the program is aimed at helping people find a job or get back to work. Eligibility for income assistance is determined by a test of need. The total financial resources of the household are compared to the total cost of basic necessities as defined in the Employment and Income Assistance Act and Regulation. Applicants must be in financial need for the monthly cost of: basic needs such as food, clothing, personal needs and household supplies; some medical costs; and housing (rent) and utilities; and some special costs if you are an adult with a disability (Brownell et al., 2007).

    Income Assistance (IA) refers to monetary support allocated by the provincial government to individuals and/or their dependents who meet a standard financial need test that qualifies them for benefits. Individuals under 18 years of age are not allowed to apply for IA on their own. Rather, they are considered 'dependents' to another 'applicant'. When working with 17-19 year olds and their outcomes (such as graduation rates), it is important to distinguish whether the recipient of IA is an 'applicant' or a 'case'.

    Currently, the EIA program is administered by the provincial government Department of Families. For more information about EIA services, see the Department of Families - Employment and Income Assistance program web page at: - accessed May 12, 2020.

Data Source

    The main data source for Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) data in the MCHP Data Repository is the Social Allowances Management Information Network (SAMIN) data set. For more information on the EIA data, please see the Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) Data glossary term and follow the links from this term to more detailed information on the EIA data and the SAMIN data set.

    NOTE: The SAMIN data set has also been referred to as the Social Assistance Management Information Network (SAMIN) in previous MCHP research and on various pages our web site.

Key Variables

    The following variables have been used in analyses:

    • Personal Identifiers :
      • encrypted SAMIN identifiers: case number (family identifier) and role number (member within a family)
      • encrypted SAMIN identifier: client number (individual identifier)
      • Manitoba Health identifier: encrypted PHIN from linkage
      • Date: year and month of association with SAMIN

        Note: case number, role number, and client number can change for an individual over time.

    • Demographics :
      • SAMIN gender of client
      • SAMIN birth date of client
        Note: SAMIN may record more than one birth date and/or gender per person
      • Relationship to case applicant

    • Case Characteristics :
      • Monthly case status: active or closed
      • Monthly case category: benefit category such as disabled, aged, single parent, etc.

    • Marital Status :
      • This variable describes each case number's relationship to the case applicant on a monthly basis. Two kinds of marital status are derived:
        1. Presence of spouse in case (i.e. single/two parent family for children)
        2. Marital status of case applicant and spouse (if present)

    • Education Level :
      • Educational attainment for each client is derived from the academic education codes recorded on the client education and training file. Educational attainment is determined for each client on a monthly basis using the client education/training end date. Two kinds of educational attainment are derived:
        1. Individual education attainment for each client in a case
        2. The case applicant's educational attainment for each member of a case (which might be more applicable to the analysis of children)

    • Income :
      • Three kinds of income are derived on a monthly basis for each case:
        1. Case monthly income from the program
        2. Case monthly earned income from employment sources. This can also be calculated on a client basis and used to derive individual employment status
        3. Case monthly income from other sources

    • Geographic Identifiers :
      • Monthly postal code of case


    The following methods have been employed in MCHP research when working with the EIA data:

    1. Defining the Period of Coverage

        Defining the period of coverage depends on the variable being studied. Some examples of variables include:

        • Assessing IA use over a particular time span. This includes individuals who have received IA for 2 months or more at any point in their lifetime.
          Note: about 10% of Manitoba children are in families receiving IA when a 2-3 year time frame is used. This percentage increases to 20% if they are considered over a 10 year period.

        • Total number of months of IA received
        • Number of different periods of use (i.e. number of 2 month or more periods)
        • Long-term versus short-term IA recipient
          Note: in looking at a long enough follow-up period, a fair percentage of people that would normally be classified as short-term become long-term.
          Note: it is helpful to determine if you want a period of coverage for the individual or coverage for the family of which the individual is a member (the family may be classified as long-term or have received IA at some point in the past).

          In looking at long-term versus short-term recipients of IA, it may be advisable to exclude 'dependents' from the analysis because inclusion would involve correlating their time on assistance with the demographic characteristics of their parents, as age and gender are the only demographic characteristics available for them. This can be done using the 'Relationship to Applicant' variable on the database and excluding those with a 'GC' (grandchild) or 'DC' (dependent child) value for the variable. It is possible, however, to do analyses of children/dependents according to whether the family is a long-term or short-term IA recipient.

    2. Defining long-term versus short-term IA recipients

        In research conducted at MCHP, the criterion for classifying long-term and short-term recipients has been:

        • Long-term: 36 months or more over a 5 to 7 year study period
        • Short-term: 35 months or less.

    3. Building case histories

        Developing case histories of applicants can be done by using the case number. However, some challenges may arise in understanding particular family circumstances. Some common concerns that may arise are:

        • A change in family composition:
          • if a family starts out as a single parent family, use the applicant's case number:
            • if they become married or common-law, they retain that case number
            • if they divorce or separate, they keep the same case number

          • if they were originally an applicant; even if they go off IA for a period of time and come back on they keep the same case number
          • if they are the applicant, the case number stays the same and with them
          • if they start out on IA with a spouse or in a common-law relationship:
            • if they are with the applicant under one case number and then divorce/separate, the spouse will get a new case number (in which case their duration over time cannot be tracked and it would be best to use the client number). Sorting by client number and month will allow for a consistent and continuous history on assistance.

        • Including all adults:
          • building history files by client number instead of case number.

        • building profiles of changes in family composition over time:
          • use client and applicant

    4. Measuring the time since the last IA receipt

        Research at MCHP suggests that individuals who have not received IA for some time have better outcomes than those who are currently receiving IA. Therefore, it may be of interest to measure the number of months since an individual or family has received IA.


    Analyses at MCHP surrounding income assistance has focused on the following five variables:

    1. Receipt of income assistance

      • this variable includes individuals who received IA for one month or more.

    2. Duration/history of income assistance

      • this variable combines the total number of months of IA received and the total number of 'spells' of IA while isolating those for whom there is incomplete data.

        Note: history can be assigned from 2 sources (case or family). This is an issue for children born after their family started receiving IA.

    3. Type of income assistance case

      • different types of IA cases analyzed were:
        • Single parent
        • Aged
        • Disability (of applicant)
        • General assistance
        • Other

    4. Earnings while on income assistance

      • this variable includes whether the applicant earned income while on IA. The four categories of average income earned per month are:
        • did not earn income
        • $1-100 earned income
        • $101-500 earned income
        • $501 plus earned income

        Note: approximately 25% of people on IA do not have any earnings

    5. Size of the family on income assistance

      • different types of family size were categorized based on the number of children in the family. The categories were:
        • no dependent children
        • one dependent child
        • two dependent children
        • three or more dependent children

Additional Data on Income Assistance Distributions

    Internal analyses performed for Roos et al. (2008) permit the availability of additional data related to income assistance distributions, presented in table format. This data is related to the 1979-1989 Manitoba and Winnipeg Birth Cohorts.

    This data is available through the LINKS section below - see the link titled: Income Assistance Tables - Per Person, Per Family and LA Test Results - 2009-02-19 - INTERNAL - (internal access only) .

    There are several tables available, including:

    • Distribution of Income Assistance - Per Person Rate - 1979-1989 Manitoba Birth Cohort - Excludes ID Individuals
    • Distribution of Income Assistance - Per Family Rate - 1979-1989 Manitoba Birth Cohort - Excludes ID Individuals
    • Distribution of Income Assistance by Birth Year - Per Person Rate (Ages 7-18) - 1979-1989 Manitoba Birth Cohort - Excludes ID Individuals
    • Distribution of Income Assistance by Birth Year - Per family Rate (Ages 7-18) - 1979-1989 Manitoba Birth Cohort - Excludes ID Individuals
    • LA Standard Test Results Grouped By Income Assistance Usage and Birth Year - 1979-1989 Manitoba Birth Cohort (Where LOSS=0)
    • LA Standard Test Results Grouped By Income Assistance Usage and Birth Year - 1979-1989 Winnipeg Birth Cohort (Where LOSS=0)

Cautions / Notes

  • The SAMIN data includes individual level measures of whether or not a child's family receives income assistance and the duration of the assistance (available from 1995 onward). As expected, almost all those receiving income assistance linked to the Manitoba Health Insurance Registry data. From 1976 to 2004, these linkage rates averaged about 99 per cent (Roos et al., 2008).

  • Winnipeg - April 1999 problem: A group of income assistance recipients will have no history of IA before April 1999. Prior to this date, they were supported by the City of Winnipeg, but after this date, they became a provincial responsibility and hence are included in the provincial data. Thus, if concerned about having complete data prior to April 1999, you may want to exclude people who were first registered in April 1999 in Winnipeg.

  • First Nations families living on reserve are not eligible for the provincial Income Assistance (IA) program but may receive assistance from federally funded programs which are not captured in the IA data available at MCHP (Martens et al., 2010). You may want to consider limiting analyses to Winnipeg residents only, or excluding rural First Nations because you won't be able to distinguish when they were or were not receiving income assistance.

  • In the deliverable Perinatal Services and Outcomes in Manitoba by Heaman et al. (2012), a mother is identified as having been on income assistance if she received income assistance any time during the period of 7 months prior to the month of the baby's delivery to one month after the baby's delivery.

  • January 2018 - For foster children residing with a low income family that is receiving income assistance, the foster child will not show up as "on Income Assistance" due to living with this family (email information January 10, 2018).

Related concepts 

Related terms 



  • Brownell M, Santos R, Kozyrskyj A, Roos N, Au W, Dik N, Chartier M, Girard D, Ekuma O, Sirski M, Tonn N, Schultz J. Next Steps in the Provincial Evaluation of the BabyFirst Program: Measuring Early Impacts on Outcomes Associated with Child Maltreatment. Winnipeg, MB: Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, 2007. [Report] [Summary] (View)
  • Heaman M, Kingston D, Helewa M, Brownell M, Derksen S, Bogdanovic B, McGowan K, Bailly A. Perinatal Services and Outcomes in Manitoba. Winnipeg, MB: Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, 2012. [Report] [Summary] [Updates and Errata] (View)
  • Martens PJ, Bartlett J, Burland E, Prior H, Burchill C, Huq S, Romphf L, Sanguins J, Carter S, Bailly A. Profile of Metis Health Status and Healthcare Utilization in Manitoba: A Population-Based Study. Winnipeg, MB: Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, 2010. [Report] [Summary] [Updates and Errata] [Additional Materials] (View)
  • Oreopoulos P, Stabile M, Walld R, Roos LL. Short, medium, and long term consequences of poor infant health: An analysis using siblings and twins. J Hum Resour 2008;43(1):88-138. [Abstract] (View)
  • Roos LL, Brownell M, Lix L, Roos NP, Walld R, MacWilliam L. From health research to social research: Privacy, methods, approaches. Soc Sci Med 2008;66(1):117-129. [Abstract] (View)


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Manitoba Centre for Health Policy
Community Health Sciences, Max Rady College of Medicine,
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University of Manitoba
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