Human Resources, Labour and Employment
August 11, 2008
Minister Makes Presentation on Poverty, Housing and Homelessness
The Honourable Shawn Skinner, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment, (HRLE) appeared today in St. Johnís before the Senate Subcommittee on Cities to discuss poverty, housing and homelessness. Minister Skinner appeared before the committee given his responsibilities as minister responsible for the provincial Poverty Reduction Strategy and Newfoundland Labrador Housing.
"I am pleased to have had this opportunity to discuss the progressive initiatives our government has undertaken to reduce, alleviate, and prevent poverty," said Minister Skinner. "Appearing today also allowed for a chance to emphasize that provincial, territorial and municipal governments require partnerships to reduce the effects of poverty on individuals and communities and the Federal Government plays a key role in reaching that goal."
The Provincial Government continues to lead the country with its commitment and investment to help the most vulnerable citizens. The Poverty Reduction Strategy is recognized by national advocates as an innovative initiative that provides a strong example for the entire country. Budget 2008 provides new investments of $12 million for poverty reduction initiatives. That brings the total ongoing annual investment in poverty reduction to more than $100 million. This funding is in addition to the $2.4 million announced April 1, 2008, to index basic income support rates.
Through HRLE, increases have been made to income support rates for health benefits for income support clients including eye exams, eyeglasses, dentures and special diets. The Provincial Government has allocated $1.4 million to improve access to housing and provided nearly $50 million for series of housing initiatives such as repairs and improvements. The Provincial Government is also working to increase the support available to help people enter the labour market and find work through the opening of 14 Career Work Centres across the province.
As part of an overall balanced approach of improving earned income levels for low wage workers, there is a plan in place to achieve increases to minimum wage in a predictable and incremental manner. The Provincial Government will meet its Blue Book Commitment to achieve a minimum wage of $10 by 2010.
"Our government is committed to working with businesses and other community stakeholders to meet the needs of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians," said Minister Skinner. "I have seen the effects of poverty first hand. With increasing prosperity, we must work to avoid the type of poverty we see in other regions of the country and ensure all in our province can benefit from our economic growth."
The Senate Subcommittee on Cities has set aside approximately two hours from 4:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. today for members of the public to make brief statements for consideration by the subcommittee.
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