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
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,
Key Highlights of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s
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
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,