March 21, 2001
(Human Resources and Employment)
Social Assistance Review
- Human Resources and Employment is
reviewing its Social Assistance Legislation that was originally drafted
- The Social Assistance Act no longer
reflects the objectives of the income support program, which includes
easing the transition from social assistance to work while providing
stable supports to people.
- A broad province-wide public consultation
process is now under way and involves focus group sessions with clients,
advocacy groups, youth, and staff. Sessions are being held in all
regions and are scheduled to be completed in April.
- To ensure that views of all stakeholders
are reflected, a full report will be made available following the
consultations. Results from this report will help inform the drafting of
new legislation, to be tabled in the fall 2002.
- This review is about seeking input from
key stakeholders on ways to improve the social assistance program, to
support the employment efforts of clients and remove barriers to
- Workfare is not being considered. HRE is
looking for input into ways to support the employment goals of clients
and ensure their full labour market participation, where appropriate.
For example, youth face significant barriers. About 45 per cent of new
entrants to the social assistance program in 2001 were under 29 years of
- A discussion paper, Investing in
People: New Directions for Social Assistance Legislation is
available on the departmentís website at www.gov.nl.ca/hre, or can be
picked up at any HRE district office. You can call toll-free at
1-800-563-6600, or in St. Johnís at 729-6600.
- The legislative review marks the
culmination of significant efforts to improve the responsiveness of the
social assistance program since 1998. A range of initiatives include:
- Introduction of the Earned Income
Supplement as part of the Single Parent Employment Support Program (SESP).
Single parents in the program receive an earned income supplement of
up to $290 monthly.
- Improved earnings exemption,
permitting clients to retain more of their earnings without a
reduction in their social assistance benefits. ($150
monthly/families: $75 monthly/singles).
- Higher level of liquid assets for
social assistance applicants, giving them a financial cushion to
assist their return to the labour market. ($1,500/families:
- The benefit amounts of social
assistance clients are not reduced if they are providing room and
board to a relative.
- Provision of a six-month extended drug
card for clients returning to employment.
- Coverage of private child care
services, where licensed child care is unavailable, has been
increased to $325 monthly for the first child and $125 for each
- Clients are permitted to retain the
first $500 of an income tax refund.
- Registered Education Savings Plans are
no longer considered in determining social assistance eligibility.
- Introduction of a Coastal Labrador
allowance ($150/monthly) for all social assistance families living
in coastal Labrador communities.
- Provision for Support Trusts to be
established by families on behalf of adults with disabilities,
without reduction in the level of social assistance benefits.
- Implementation of a seven per cent
social assistance rate increase between 1998-2001.
Media contact: Paul Power, Communications,