Human Resources, Labour and Employment
Health and Community Services
July 3, 2007

Increased Poverty Reduction Benefits for Families and Persons with Disabilities

The Williams Government continues to forge ahead with poverty reduction measures to improve benefits for thousands of families and for persons with disabilities. Effective July 1, an additional $9.2 million in benefits under the Poverty Reduction Strategy are being provided to strengthen the private child care allowance, the Newfoundland and Labrador Child Benefit (NLCB), the Mother-Baby Nutrition Supplement (MBNS) and to implement a new board and lodging supplement for persons with disabilities.

"One year into the provincial Poverty Reduction Strategy, significant progress is being made and additional benefits for individuals and families are being realized," said the Honourable Shawn Skinner, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment. "As of July 1, I am pleased to note that there are enhanced benefits for families in regard to the private child care allowance, the Newfoundland and Labrador Child Benefit and the Mother-Baby Nutrition Supplement."

In Budget 2007, the Provincial Government allotted $230,000 under the Poverty Reduction Strategy to increase benefit levels for the private child care allowance. Access to affordable child care is critically important for income support clients who are making the transition from income support to employment. Income support clients who cannot access a regulated child care provider in their community will benefit from an increase in the private child care allowance of $75 per child. This means benefit rates will rise from $325 to $400 per month for the first child and from $125 to $200 for each subsequent child. This will directly benefit approximately 300 families in the province.

As well, for children in low-income families, Budget 2007 provides $650,000 to increase the first child rate under the NLCB by $5 per month to reach $332 annually. This will benefit approximately 17,000 low-income families and 29,000 children. Budget 2007 also provides an additional $300,000 to increase the MBNS by $15, raising it from $45 to $60 per month. This is expected to benefit 1,140 children and 350 expectant women in the province this year.

Effective July 1, 2007, the Provincial Government will provide an enhanced board and lodging supplement for adults with disabilities residing with their own family members. Through this $8 million initiative a single adult aged 18 to 64 years with a disability who is living with relatives and is in receipt of the maximum family board and lodging income support rate will receive the same board and lodging supplement as those living with non-relatives. This means an increase of up to $362 a month, or $4,344 annually. This supplement will assist with the cost of items associated with maintaining a quality standard of living such as clothing, personal care items, recreation and social events, over the counter drugs and dental work. Approximately 2,500 individuals will benefit as a result of this enhancement.

"Our government is responding to the needs of persons with disabilities," said the Honourable Ross Wiseman, Minister of Health and Community Services. "We are pleased to provide this enhancement which will result in greater equity for individuals living with family members and will assist families in providing care."

The Provincial Government is committed to continuing its dialogue with community organizations and stakeholders to ensure that the Poverty Reduction Strategy continues to be relevant in meeting the needs of low-income individuals and families in this province.

"The National Council of Welfare recently held its board meeting in St. Johnís and invited members of the community and our government in to discuss this provinceís Poverty Reduction Strategy," said Minister Skinner. "I took the opportunity to discuss our progress to date and was quite pleased with their acknowledgement that Newfoundland and Labrador is on the right course and that our efforts serve as an inspiration for other jurisdictions in Canada."

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Media contacts:

Ed Moriarity
Director of Communications
Human Resources, Labour and Employment
709-729-4062, 728-9623
edmoriarity@gov.nl.ca 
Tansy Mundon
Director of Communications
Health and Community Services
709-729-1377, 685-1741
tansymundon@gov.nl.ca

BACKGROUNDER

Significant Progress Made To Date for the Poverty Reduction Strategy

The Poverty Reduction Strategy has officially reached the first anniversary of its implementation. Guided by a long-term and integrated approach, Newfoundland and Labrador is leading the way as only the second province to move forward with a comprehensive Poverty Reduction Strategy and Action Plan. The plan is available at http://www.gov.nl.ca/hrle/poverty/poverty-reduction-strategy.pdf.

The Poverty Reduction Strategy is a $91 million commitment to support a variety of initiatives to help prevent, reduce and alleviate poverty for individuals, families, women, seniors, youth, and persons with disabilities. It includes measures to address affordable housing, access to education and training, childcare, employment and income.

To date, significant progress is being made across all poverty reduction initiatives:

  • Over 22,000 more individuals are now in receipt of prescription drug coverage as a result of expanded access and enhancements to the provincial drug program;
     
  • The minimum wage was increased from $6 to $7 per hour, with a further increase of $1 dollar scheduled for complete implementation by April 1, 2008. This represents a 33 per cent increase;
     
  • An increase to basic income support benefits and the further indexation of those benefits has resulted in an average increase for families of over $600 annually;
     
  • There was over a 25 per cent increase in the number of children accessing subsidized child care this past year. This means about 1,900 children currently are benefiting from the initiative;
     
  • Approximately 1,200 income support clients have accessed the Job Start benefit to help them make the transition from income support to work;
     
  • Changes in the provincial tax system this year mean the elimination or reduction of provincial income taxes for more than 30,000 individuals with low-income;
     
  • Changes to the Low-income Seniors Benefit mean that about 6,000 more seniors will be eligible for the benefit;
     
  • $12.8 million to cover the cost of text books for the Grades 9 to Level III prescribed curriculum will result in parents no longer having to purchase text books, providing consistency throughout the K-12 system;
     
  • Four expanded sites for the Family Justice Services Division in Newfoundland and Labrador were opened to deliver comprehensive family law services outside of the traditional court setting;
     
  • $650,000 was provided to increase funding for the Community Youth Network and expand services to approximately 4,000 young people in the communities and surrounding areas of Cape Broyle, Bonavista, St. Lawrence, Grand Falls-Windsor, Corner Brook, and St. Anthony.

For a one-earner family with two children in high school and an annual income of $21,000 living in a subsidized Newfoundland Labrador Housing unit, the possible combined package of applicable poverty reduction initiatives for 2006 and 2007 will see them benefit financially by about $3,500 this year. This includes poverty reduction measures such as the provincial drug program, elimination of school fees and provision of free core textbooks, rental and educational incentives, as well as the elimination of provincial income tax.

For a single parent of one child in high school, who is in receipt of income support and has an opportunity to go to work at an annual salary of $17,000, possible poverty reduction incentives include a Job Start benefit to help offset the costs of returning to work, continued prescription drug coverage, and free core textbooks. This package of initiatives benefits the family financially by about $1,300 this year.

2007 07 03                                                   10:05 a.m.

 


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