March 27, 2003
(Human Resources and Employment)


New initiatives to benefit low income families with children

Ralph Wiseman, Minister of Human Resources and Employment, says Budget 2003 provides for expansion of the Support Application Program and for a rate increase in the Newfoundland and Labrador Child Benefit. Both initiatives are designed to further support low-income families in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Five additional support application workers will be added to the current 15 who deliver the Support Application Program in the province.

The Support Application Program is a service offered by the Department of Human Resources and Employment to single parents who receive Income Support, and to the general public. Support Application Social Workers assist parents to secure appropriate child support from absent partners. They help clients understand the Child Support Guidelines, explain the options available in seeking child support and assist parents to negotiate the court system in cases where mutually satisfactory agreements cannot be reached.

Minister Wiseman said: "An expansion of the Support Application Program will prove a great benefit in ensuring single parents receive all supports for their children to which they are entitled. Clients receiving a child support order are ultimately less reliant on income support and are in a better position to exit the Income Support Program in favour of employment."

The other initiative is an adjustment to the Newfoundland and Labrador Child Benefit (NLCB) to increase the benefit rate for the first child by $12 annually to $216 from $204.

Introduced in 1999, the NLCB is a child benefit which is combined with the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) provided to low-income families by Canada Customs Revenue Agency (CRA). For the past two years, government has re-invested savings resulting from demographic changes in this program back into the NLCB. At present, families with incomes less than $17,397 receive the maximum benefit, while families with incomes between $17,397 and $22,397 receive a partial benefit. The cost of increasing the rate structure is approximately $215,000 for 2003-04.

This increase, when combined with the recent federal announcement increasing the first child rate under the National Child Benefit (NCB) families by $188 annually, means families in the province will receive a combined federal-provincial child benefit of approximately $2,848 annually for the first child. The increase will come into effect on July 1, 2003.

"We are very pleased to continue and expand the Newfoundland and Labrador Child Benefit," said Minister Wiseman. "This increase, along with the increased rates of the National Child Benefit, will help in addressing the needs of a significant number of families in our province. Currently, approximately 20,500 families with 32,000 children receive the NLCB."

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

2003 03 27                                        4:25 p.m.

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