The following statement was issued today by Gerald Smith, Minister of Human Resources and Employment. It was also read in the House of Assembly:
National Child Benefit Progress Report
I am happy to inform everyone about the National Child Benefit Progress Report 2000, which was released yesterday across the country.
As most of my colleagues know, the National Child Benefit was created in 1998 by federal, provincial and territorial governments to help reduce child poverty and support low-income families enter and stay in the labour force. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is proud to be a partner in the National Child Benefit. The partnerships we have established through the NCB are an excellent example of federal/provincial cooperation.
Since the launch of the NCB, the province has introduced major new programs and enhanced existing ones to assist low-income families with children The National Child Benefit also includes a federal income supplement that goes to approximately 54,000 children in low-income families across the province and is valued at around $31 million. This supplement and our programs and services are making a real difference in the lives of families, children and youth, and demonstrate our commitment to reducing child poverty and helping low-income families with children.
The 2000 Progress Report shows that fewer Canadian children are living in poverty and more families are earning money from employment. It also shows that the number of families receiving income support has declined significantly since 1997. Here in Newfoundland and Labrador there are about 18,000 children living in families on income support. While that number is still too high, it is down from about 26,000 in 1997, and represents a decline of about 30 per cent.
While we know that a number of factors are key to this trend, including an improved economy and changing demographics, we also believe that the kinds of programs and services we offer are making a difference in the lives of children and their families.
Monsieur le président: nous savons que plusieurs facteurs contribuent à cette tendance, entre autres, une économie améliorée et des changements démographiques. Nous croyons également que les programmes et services que nous offrons affectent positivement la vie de ces enfants et de leur famille.
Annually, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador invests about $17 million in NCB programs and services that include the Newfoundland and Labrador Child Benefit for low income families, including families on income support, and extended drug card benefits for families returning to work. About 24,000 families receive the NLCB. Losing benefits for their children is a major issue for parents who are rejoining the workforce, and these initiatives are designed to respond to this concern.
Other successful NCB initiatives include family resource centres to help ensure children up to the age of six get a healthy start in life. There are an estimated 1,100 families and 1,300 children attending NCB funded family resource centres monthly in our province. There is also a unique pilot project for children with autism, community youth networks for youth between 12-18, and enhanced child care initiatives including increased funding for subsidies. These subsidies allow low income families to go to work or take advantage of training opportunities.
We are all very proud of the work we are doing under the National Child Benefit. The programs and services we offer support our continued focus on reducing child poverty, helping people find employment, and providing families with supports they need to ensure their children get off to a healthy start. These are major priorities of Human Resources and Employment, Health and Community Services and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. They also complement the goals of the Strategic Social Plan.
2001 05 01 2:00 p.m.