March 21, 2002
(Human Resources and Employment)


Department’s innovative changes continue

With a series of recent initiatives, the Department of Human Resources and Employment continues its major redesign of programs and services to assist persons on social assistance achieve independence and extend support to low income working families.

Included in these initiatives are:

  • A $45 monthly Mother-Baby Nutrition Supplement to assist low income pregnant women and families with children under one year with the costs of healthy nutrition during the crucial period of early development.
  • Provision for Support Trusts to be established by families on behalf of adults with disabilities, without reducing their social assistance benefits and the level of related benefits and services.
  • Measures to improve the responsiveness of the social assistance program to persons who are victims of violence, including the piloting of a start-up allowance to assist with the establishment of a new household.
  • Continued improvements to the income thresholds used to determine eligibility for the Newfoundland and Labrador Child Benefit.

The department’s main focus for 2002-2003 is revamping the Social Assistance Act to reflect the new directions for income support programming and the increased emphasis on providing employment and career supports.

"We’re now in the process of consulting with clients, community groups and our staff, and we’re getting valuable feedback from them," said Minister Smith. "Their input will help us make the changes that must be made to ensure our Social Assistance Act meets the needs of our clients and treats people in a dignified way. The public can expect a report of these consultations during the early summer, with a new Social Assistance Act introduced this fall."

The department has made significant changes to its income support program over the past two to three years, including: extended drug card benefits for clients returning to employment, improved earnings exemptions for clients while receiving social assistance, and the lifting of a lower rate of assistance for single, employable clients over 30 years of age.

Human Resources and Employment continues to support people making the transition to employment through innovative employment programs delivered in partnership with community agencies. Programs such as NewfoundlandJOBS and the Linkages Youth Employment Program focus on the link between social and economic development.

Under the Employability Assistance Program for People with Disabilities (EAPD) Agreement, the department will provide $6.6 million, cost-shared with the Government of Canada, to help people with disabilities enter the labour market. These services have assisted over 1,400 clients.

Under this program, the department provides what is recognized nationally to be one of the leading examples of innovative employment support for persons with developmental disabilities. The Supported Employment Program works through community employment corporations specifically established to support and match developmentally challenged adults with job opportunities.

"Our communities are stronger when all people have equal opportunities to work and participate," said Minister Smith. "This certainly reflects the vision of the Strategic Social Plan and is an important theme of the Report on Jobs and Growth."

Media contact: Paul Power, Communications, (709) 729-4062.

2002 03 21                           3:10 p.m.

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