Government reinvesting $10.15 million in children and families
Joan Marie Aylward, Minister of Health and Community Services, and Julie Bettney, Minister of Human Resources and Employment, jointly announced today that under the National Child Benefit (NCB), Newfoundland and Labrador will have more resources to reinvest in new programs and services for children and families.
As a result of this joint federal/provincial initiative Newfoundland and Labrador will have $10.5 million annually which it will use to improve and expand licensed child care, provide additional family resource project sites, develop a coordinated regional youth service network and provide initiatives under the social assistance program to assist families in making the transition to work. Because the NCB will not commence until July 1, 1998, the reinvestment fund available for 1998-99 is $7.7 million.
"The extra resources we now have available will allow us to work together to prevent and reduce child poverty, give needed support to low income families and reduce barriers to employment," said Minister Bettney.
Minister Aylward added: "These reinvestment dollars give us the ability to support the overall strategic direction of government by investing in youth and the capacities of communities. Community Youth Networks will serve as a central point for coordinating provincial government programs and services."
The National Child benefit and the Provincial Reinvestment Plan demonstrate that both levels of government are working together to ensure low income families gain support services which will help them enter or remain in the labour force.
The province has identified a number of strategic areas in its Reinvestment Plan which reflect the findings of a number of recent public consultation processes including the Select Committee on Childrens Interests, the Strategic Economic Plan and the Classroom Issues Report. These areas include early childhood services, supportive services for families and children and income support measures that address disincentives to employment.
"Reinvesting money towards our children and families who are facing numerous challenges is something we should be doing as both a government and as members of our community," said Minister Bettney. "Government is maintaining its commitment to those already in receipt of social assistance and we will build on those resources to ensure all members of our society have equal footing in the way of education, employment and general support."
The National Child Benefit is an innovative partnership between federal and provincial/territorial governments and represents an important first step in a collaborative action plan to address child poverty. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is proud to have played a role in the development of this program. The National Child Benefit (NCB) will significantly improve the way income support for Canadian children in low income families is provided in the future and will enable provinces and territories to undertake major investments in additional programs and services that complement the objectives of the NCB.
The long term goal is to increase over time the benefits provided through the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB), to the point that eventually it becomes the primary source of income support benefits for children. Most importantly, this approach will ensure a secure, uniform and basic level of support for children in low income families across the country. When a family leaves social assistance, they will retain access to the benefits payable under the CCTB with the maximum benefits available until their income exceeds $20,921 of net family income. This on-going, stable and uniform income source will provide families with the assurance of an income benefit that remains constant at low income levels and does not vary with changes in family circumstances.
NCB Provincial Reinvestment Fund
Under NCB, Newfoundland and Labrador will have available approximately $10.15 million annually to reinvest in new programs and services. The Reinvestment Fund in fiscal year 1998-99 will be somewhat less at approximately $7.7 million, because the NCB will not commence until July 1998. These figures represent projections and may vary slightly, with some adjustments still possible pending final NCB implementation details. The initiatives that will be introduced by this province commencing in fiscal year 1998-99 (costed at projected funding levels for a full fiscal year) include:
These initiatives reflect governments commitment to a number of strategic directions, including:
These directions are consistent with the views expressed in a number of public consultation processes including the House of Assembly Select Committee on Childrens Interests, and Social Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC) consultations on the Strategic Social Plan. As well, these directions are consistent with on-going initiatives including the Coordinated Model for Social Services to Children and Youth and the provincial Strategy on Violence.
Implementation of these initiatives will be done in conjunction with the proposed introduction of new legislation governing child welfare services and the licensing of child care services, scheduled for the up-coming fiscal year. As a consequence, some initiatives may not achieve full implementation in the 1998-99 fiscal year. Community and consumer participation in the planning and implementation associated with these new initiatives will be sought. A process for such input will be announced shortly.
The NCB: How It Will Work
The primary objectives of the NCB are to help prevent and reduce the depth of child poverty and to promote attachment to the workforce, resulting in fewer families having to rely on social assistance, by ensuring that families will always be better off as a result of working. In addition, federal and provincial governments have pledged to reduce overlap and duplication in income support programs for low income families with children through closer harmonization of program objectives and benefits.
The National Child benefit will come into effect in July 1998. The agreement to implement the NCB involves the commitment of federal and provincial governments to the following:
This arrangement will:
Provincial Implementation of the NCB
The Department of Human Resources and Employment will be responsible for managing the administrative arrangements necessary between the NCB and provincial social assistance. Effective in July 1998, the month in which the NCB increase is payable, social assistance families will have the monthly NCB increase deducted as income for the purposes of calculating their monthly entitlement. This change will be implemented on an automatic basis and families will be required to take any action or have contact with a Financial Assistance Officer for this purpose. In order to facilitate the change over, for July 1998 only one-half of the monthly NCB increase will be recovered from social assistance families to allow a smooth transition between the two programs. It should be emphasized that social assistance families will also continue to receive the basic CCTB benefit of $1,020 for each of the first two children annually ($1,095 for each additional child) and, as before, this will not be deducted from social assistance.
As noted, social assistance families will not experience any reduction in total combined income from social assistance and the Canada Child Tax Benefit as a consequence of the introduction of the NCB. Social assistance families will also benefit from the additional programs and services introduced under the NCB Provincial Reinvestment Plan and the 1998 Budget measures. These include:
Together these combined measures provide tangible evidence of governments commitment to support families in their quest for self-reliance and a better future for their children.
The Fiscal Commitment to the NCB
The Government of Canada has committed $850 million to the NCB commencing in July 1998. In addition, in the February 1998 Federal Budget, the Government of Canada extended its fiscal commitment to another $850 million bringing the total annual commitment to the NCB to $1.7 billion by the year 2000. The specific breakdown for these new monies is an increase of $425 million starting in July 1999 and an additional $425 million starting in July 2000. These additional on-going commitments will significantly contribute to achieving the long term goal of a national income support program for Canadas children.
Complementing the federal investment, provincial and territorial governments will undertake to improve the availability and accessibility of programs and services for low income families and their children, using the reinvestment funds freed-up under the NCB. The NCB agreement allows jurisdictions to design these new or additional benefits/services according to provincial needs and priorities, as long as the beneficiaries are low income families and the programs conform with the NCB objectives.