October 1, 2002
(Human Resources and Employment)


Minister applauds federal government’s commitment to children and low-income families

Ralph Wiseman, Minister of Human Resources and Employment, today applauded the Government of Canada’s long-term commitment to support low-income families as outlined in yesterday’s Speech from the Throne.

"The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is fully committed to ongoing actions on the issue of child poverty and continues to make these programs a priority," said Minister Wiseman. "A renewed commitment from the federal government, particularly to enhancing the National Child Benefit, will contribute to further reduction of the number of children living in low-income families within our province."

Presented on September 30, 2002, the Speech from the Throne highlighted the following in regards to children and low income families:

The government will put in place a long-term investment plan to allow poor families to break out of the welfare trap so that children born into poverty do not carry the consequences of that poverty throughout their lives. It will again significantly increase the National Child Benefit for poor families, and will work with its partners to increase access to early learning opportunities and to quality child care, particularly for poor and lone-parent families. It will also put in place targeted measures for low-income families caring for severely disabled children, to help meet the needs of the child and of the family.


"The investment plan described in yesterday’s speech reflects the strategic approach the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has taken to address the issues of child poverty and low-income families," said Minister Wiseman. "Over the past few years, we have introduced a number of prevention and early intervention programs that have made a difference. Support from the federal government will prove an asset as the province continues to build on current initiatives and, in turn, create further supports and programs."

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

Key Highlights of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s initiatives
to address child poverty in the province

Along with an improving economy, the social assistance caseload is the lowest it has been in almost a decade. There has also been a decrease of the number of children on the social assistance caseload, indicating improving income levels for families.

Considerable emphasis has been placed on redesigning the social assistance program to remove disincentives that prevent people from participating in the labour market.

In line with these improvements, government introduced the Newfoundland and Labrador Child Benefit (NLCB) to extend benefits to low-income families and children including working families. Approximately 21,000 families a year now receive provincial child benefits, as compared to approximately 12,000 two years ago.

In addition, extended drug card benefits, increased earnings exemptions and increased private child care rates are now part of the redesigned income support program.

Under the National Child Benefit reinvestment initiatives, this province invests an additional $10 million of new monies annually in supportive programs for families and children. In addition, in 2001, government announced a $36.6 million, five-year Early Childhood Development Initiative, in cooperation with the federal government to further increase the availability and range of these programs.

These investments have contributed to a significant improvement in the level and quality of services available to children and families.

The number of available subsidies for licensed child care services has increased substantially. The subsidy budget has gone from $4 million in 1997-1998, to $6.2 million in 2000-2001, and to $7.2 million in 2001-2002. Development has commenced on infant child care and licensed family child care.

In 2001, government introduced an expanded Mother Baby Nutrition Supplement that covers families on social assistance, as well as low income working families, aimed at supporting maternal and child health.

Additional funding to Healthy Baby Clubs and creation of six new Family Resource Centres, in addition to enhancing existing family resource programs.

Further initiatives include early childhood literacy programs, expansion of family resource centres (resulting in 74 centres across the province), healthy baby clubs, increased child care support, and early intervention services for children with developmental disabilities and children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The province provided the School Children’s Food Foundation with an initial endowment of $1.0 million. This level of funding was to provide the foundation with core funding for a five-year period. An additional $1.0 million was provided to the foundation in 1998 to service the needs of Labrador.

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

2002 10 01                                       4:50 p.m.

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