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May 15 2000
(Human Resources and Employment)

New initiatives announced

Julie Bettney, Minister Human Resources and Employment, today announced details of three new initiatives designed to help reduce barriers to employment and make it easier for people on income support to enter or return to the workforce

The three initiatives, an extended drug card for singles and families without children, a new liquid assets policy, and a revised rate structure for singles over 29, are an important part of the departmentís ongoing redesign of programs and services. All are effective October 1, 2000.

"The new measures reflect our departmentís focus on employment and ensuring stable benefits for those who are unable to work," said Minister Bettney. "They will help improve the well-being of our clients and create a more simplified system for both staff and the people we serve."

The introduction of a new income support rate structure for singles aged 29 and over, like the family benefit announced last year, is designed to create a more equitable, more simplified system.

All singles in this age group will be eligible for one of two rates, based on whether they live on their own, or with relatives. The new structure eliminates the lower rates that do not meet clientsí needs.

Another significant initiative is the extension of drug card benefits to singles and families without children. For many clients, the loss of health benefits is a disincentive to taking employment. Families with children already receive extended drug card benefits when they move into the workforce.

The department is also implementing a new, more equitable liquid assets policy. The new policy increases the amount of money that employable income supports clients are able to retain. Singles will be able to keep $500 in savings while families can keep up to $1,500.

On an annual basis, these initiatives are valued at $1.7 million.

"We remain committed to improving the well-being of all our clients," said Minister Betteny. "Our new initiatives build on important changes that have already taken place, and reflect the vision of the Strategic Social Plan."

These changes take effect as of October 1, 2000, and are key steps in the ongoing redesign of programs and services. The Department of Human Resources and Employment continues to encourage and support clients to seek and maintain employment, and provide stable supports to those who are unable to work.

Initiatives to date include the Newfoundland and Labrador Child and Family Benefits, extended drug card benefits for families with children, increased earnings exemptions, a $500 income tax exemption, Newfound JOBS, and an employment program for single parents.

Media contact: Marcia Porter, Communications, (709) 729-4062.

2000 05 15                                                     11:25 a.m.

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