June 24, 2005
(Human Resources, Labour and Employment)
Work on development of a provincial poverty strategy kicks into high gear
Joan Burke, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment, announced that workshops will begin today on the development of a strategy to reduce the level of poverty in Newfoundland and Labrador. The sessions, to be held in approximately 10 communities over a two-week period, will engage those working with community-based, labour and business organizations and is just one of several activities planned to gather input on how best to reduce poverty in the province.
"This is a significant step in our efforts to make a real difference for people who live in poverty," said Minister Burke, lead minister for the development of a provincial strategy. "Poverty is an extremely complex issue. It goes far beyond simply not having enough money. If we are to achieve long-term poverty reduction, we must draw on the expertise and knowledge of organizations in many different areas and involve the work of several departments at both the provincial and federal levels."
This is the first time a government of Newfoundland and Labrador has embarked on such a project. Only one other province in Canada has a strategy in place to address the issue of poverty. "Almost every jurisdiction in the country has taken steps to reduce the impact of poverty. Many of the measures have been a success in their own right, but they have not been enough to decrease the overall number of people living in poverty and the depth of poverty they experience," said Minister Burke. "A strategic plan must look at the issue from all angles, including gender, education, housing, health, tax measures and financial supports. We must also consider how different policies relate to each other and how those policies impact the person they are designed to help. A strategy will also help us effectively address challenges that are unique to Newfoundland and Labrador, such as the nature and depth of poverty in our rural communities."
Minister Burke also released today a working document, "Reducing Poverty in Newfoundland and Labrador: Working Towards a Solution". This is a background report and workbook designed to inform the workshops getting underway today and to spark discussion on how best to decrease the level of poverty in Newfoundland and Labrador. The report is the result of consultations and input from the departmentís of Health and Community Services; Justice; Education; Innovation, Trade and Rural Development; Finance; and Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs, as well as the Womenís Policy Office, Rural Secretariat, Labour Relations Agency and the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation. The paper can be viewed at www.gov.nl.ca/publicat. It will also be widely distributed throughout the province.
In addition to the workshops beginning today, discussions with those who are directly impacted by poverty will be held this fall. Input on the development of a strategy to reduce poverty can also be made by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org and a toll-free telephone number will be available over the coming weeks.
Government announced the development of a strategic plan to address poverty in Budget 2005. It is anticipated work on the strategy will inform next yearís budget process. "Government is moving forward with several positive initiatives, such as an improved earnings exemption for working income support clients, additional funding to increase the number of low income families who can access the Child Care Services Subsidy program, a new pilot program to help single parents gain employment, a high school completion incentive and additional funding for Adult Basic Education, just to name a few," said Minister Burke. "With a strategic plan, we will take an integrated, comprehensive approach that will ensure that initiatives such as these have the desired impact and help us reach our goal of long-term poverty reduction."
Media contact: Jacquelyn Howard, Communications: (709) 729-4062, 689-2624