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June 23, 2006
(Human Resources, Labour and Employment)
 

New strategy to reduce poverty in the province

Paul Shelley, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment and lead minister responsible for poverty reduction along with Tom Osborne, Minister of Health and Community Services, today released, at the Community Services Council of Newfoundland and Labrador office in St. John’s, the province’s poverty reduction strategy - Reducing Poverty: An Action Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador.

"Newfoundland and Labrador is only the second jurisdiction in Canada to move forward with a poverty reduction strategy. This is the result of intensive work undertaken over the past year both within government and more importantly with the broader community," said Minister Shelley. "The strategy is a long-term, integrated approach that is based on the principles of social inclusion and collaboration."

Premier Danny Williams established a broad-based ministerial Committee to ensure that poverty reduction receives the highest level of attention within his government. Minister Shelley thanks Premier Williams and his Cabinet colleagues in Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs, Education, Women’s Policy Office, Finance, Health and Community Services, Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, the Rural Secretariat, and Justice for the leadership and commitment shown in moving this strategy forward.

"Poverty is multi-dimensional in scope. This was reflected during the consultations. Income support clients identified barriers to education and employment. Community stakeholders pointed to the need to better coordinate service delivery. Educational advocates and parents emphasized early learning and better preparation for post-secondary education and employment," said Minister Shelley.

The 2005 Speech from the Throne affirmed Government’s Blueprint commitment to transform Newfoundland and Labrador over a 10-year period from a province with the most poverty to a province with the least poverty.

Government released a background report to launch the formal consultation process last year. Government heard from hundreds of people through a series of workshops and focus groups as well as by telephone and e-mail. The submissions and advice strongly guided the development of the strategy.

"The strategy embraces government’s commitment to reducing, alleviating and preventing poverty. Tackling poverty is essential to ensuring a healthy future for our province," said Minister Shelley. "After all, poverty reduction is about both improving the well-being and quality of life of those living in poverty and ensuring a strong and prosperous future for our province. Ultimately, the vision that this government is striving towards is of a province where poverty has been eliminated."

This approach builds on government’s Budget 2006 commitments. Government is making investments of over $30 million in 2006-07 and over $60 million annually to support expanded eligibility for the prescription drug program, the elimination of school fees, increases to income support programs, and enhanced Adult Basic Education (ABE) offerings. Government is investing in the province’s social safety-net to ensure that poverty reduction occurs and that these objectives and goals are met over the long-term.

"The systemic causes of poverty cannot be addressed overnight; there is no quick-fix solution for this problem," said Minister Shelley. "Government is committed to act in areas where it has the capacity and jurisdiction. In order to do this many partners are necessary and it cannot be done in isolation of the community."

Individuals, community-based groups and government are working in partnership to achieve the goals and objectives contained in this document. Government is committed to reflect regularly and consult with the community as we move forward to improve and adjust the strategy over time.

"Reducing poverty restores the balance of opportunity for all citizens in society. The Poverty Reduction Strategy is a starting point for this journey. Working in partnership, citizens, government and the community can achieve positive change," said Minister Shelley. "Poverty reduction is everyone’s business and this strategy is a vital step forward in achieving our goal."

Copies of Reducing Poverty: An Action Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador can be found at http://www.gov.nl.ca/hrle/poverty/default.htm. A hard copy can be requested by calling 1-866-883-6600 or by e-mail povertyreduction@gov.nl.ca.

Media contact: Ed Moriarity, Communications, (709) 729-4062, 728-9623

BACKGROUNDER

There are a number of elements associated with the Poverty Reduction Strategy. The new framework includes a vision statement, guiding principles, key directions, and goals and objectives.

Vision for Our Province

The vision is of a province where poverty has been eliminated. This will be a prosperous, diverse province where all individuals are valued, can develop to their full potential and have access to the supports they need to participate fully in the social and economic benefits of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Guiding Principles

  • Taking a long-term approach
  • Focusing on prevention
  • Building on partnerships
  • Finding the right policy mix
  • Demonstrating accountability and measuring progress
  • Taking an integrated and coordinated approach
  • Addressing rural and urban differences
  • Consideration of gender
  • Consideration of Aboriginal issues
  • Key Directions

  • Prevent poverty - Prevent people from living in poverty
  • Reduce poverty - Increase the proportion of the population with incomes above poverty-level
  • Alleviate poverty - Decrease the depth of poverty and improve the quality of life for those who are poor
  • Goals and Objectives

    Goal 1: Improved access and coordination of services for those with low incomes

    • Increased capacity within government to support an integrated and coordinated approach
    • Improved access to existing programs and services for those with low incomes
    • Development of tools for ongoing analysis of combined impacts of programs, including tax implications, to avoid unintended impacts
    • Work with Aboriginal people to improve their quality of life

     

    Goal 2: A stronger social safety net

  • Increased disability supports to enable people with disabilities to participate fully in society
  • Enhanced justice system supports for vulnerable people
  • Increased availability of affordable housing
  • Improved access to necessities for those most vulnerable to poverty
  • Increased Income Support rates
  •  

    Goal 3: Improved earned incomes

  • Fewer barriers to work and greater support for low-income workers
  • Greater supports for the development of employment skills
  • Greater supports for labour force participation and improved earnings from employment
  • Establish an alternative to Income Support for youth which allows for a coordinated service specific to their needs
  • Develop and expand employment skills programs for vulnerable groups whose needs
  •  

    Goal 4: Increased emphasis on early childhood development

  • Strengthen the regulated early learning and child care system
  • Promotion of healthy child development
  • Strengthen early intervention services and programs
  •  

    Goal 5: A better educated population

  • A K to 12 system where more students graduate
  • Increased responsiveness of the K to 12 system
  • Greater access to post-secondary education, literacy and adult basic education
  • 2006 06 23                          10:30 a.m.


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