June 4, 2002
(Human Resources and Employment)


National Child Benefit Progress Report released

Ralph Wiseman, Minister of Human Resources and Employment, attended the Federal-Provincial-Territorial meeting of Ministers Responsible for Social Services in Toronto on May 30-31. During this meeting, Minister Wiseman was pleased to participate in the release of the National Child Benefit Progress Report: 2001.

The National Child Benefit was created in 1998 as a federal, provincial and territorial government initiative to help reduce child poverty and support low-income families enter and stay in the labour force.

"The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, together with our federal partners, is strongly committed to addressing the needs of children," said Minister Wiseman. "The progress report indicates that the new and enhanced initiatives and supports under the NCB Initiative are making a difference in the lives of our children. Our commitment to improve the conditions for our clients in receipt of income support means that they receive the full advantage of the NCB Benefit programs"

The 2001 Progress Report shows that fewer Canadian children are living in poverty and more families are earning money from employment. Although the overall child poverty rate in Newfoundland and Labrador has not shown a similar decline, provincial data indicates that the number of children living in families in receipt of Social Assistance in Newfoundland and Labrador has declined significantly, by more than 30 per cent, since 1997.

Minister Wiseman remarked: "We are pleased with the improvement to date and we ascribe it largely to national initiatives like the NCB and the introduction of complementary provincial programs like the Newfoundland and Labrador Child Benefit .

"The data in the 2001 Progress Report is for 1999, only one year into the implementation of the NCB and associated programs. Both levels of government are optimistic that as data for subsequent years becomes available, the full impact of the NCB Initiative will be reflected in more significant drops in the child poverty rate."

Since the launch of the NCB Initiative, 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 for low-income families that goes to approximately 53,000 children in low-income families across the province and is valued at around $38 million annually.

The 2001 Progress Report goes on to state that in fiscal year 2001-2002, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador through the Departments of Human Resources and Employment, Health and Community Services and Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education invested approximately an additional $18 million to finance provincial programs and services that complement the NCB and includes:

  • The Newfoundland and Labrador Child Benefit, an income tested benefit payable to all low-income families, including families in receipt of Income Support. About 20,000 families receive the NLCB;
  • Extended drug card benefits for families and individuals who leave Income Support due to employment. Losing these benefits is a major issue for those who are rejoining the workforce and this initiative is designed to respond to this concern. 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;
  • A unique pilot project for children with autism 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;
  • Community Youth Networks established in 19 centres with outreach to other surrounding communities which promote the healthy development of youth ages 12 to 18 years old through learning, employment, community building and service delivery. This unique Newfoundland and Labrador initiative is showing great signs of success following its first year of operation.

"We are all very proud of the work we are doing under the National Child Benefit," said Minister Wiseman. "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."

Media contact: Simon N. Lono, Communications, (709) 729-4062.

2002 06 04                             1:10 p.m.

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