Human Resources, Labour and Employment
October 16, 2008

Province Launches Poverty Reduction Consultations

The Provincial Government is planning a series of public consultations to strengthen its Poverty Reduction Strategy. This will include a series of public sessions, round tables, focus groups, and a website. These consultations are designed to engage individuals living in poverty, the community and the general public in a dialogue on the strategyís themes, goals and objectives.

In 2006, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador released Reducing Poverty: An Action Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador. This action plan was developed with input from community-based organizations, business, labour and people living in and vulnerable to poverty. It outlines governmentís plan to transform Newfoundland and Labrador from a province with the most poverty to one with the least, within 10 years. To date the Provincial Government has committed more than $100 million on an ongoing annual basis in support of 60 initiatives to prevent, reduce and alleviate poverty.

"Our government is interested in hearing the views of all residents of the province, and in particular those of low income, regarding the ongoing implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy," said the Honourable Shawn Skinner, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment, and lead Minister for the Poverty Reduction Strategy. "The consultations support an active and ongoing dialogue that enables government and the community to share knowledge and strengthen the long-term success of the strategy. The purpose of the consultations is to continue to build a successful strategy to help the most vulnerable people in our province succeed and prosper."

The Provincial Government will hold public consultation sessions and roundtables in 15 communities across the nine rural secretariat regions of the province. To guide these discussions a consultation booklet is available in print or online at www.gov.nl.ca/hrle/poverty/consultations . Those who intend to make a presentation are encouraged to call toll-free line, 1-866-883-6600, and pre-register; however, everyone is welcome.

Individuals and groups can also provide their feedback and views by visiting the consultation website or by calling the toll-free number. Written submissions are encouraged and can be sent either by e-mail povertryreduction@gov.nl.ca, fax 709-729-5139 or regular mail at Poverty Reduction Strategy P.O. Box 8700 St. Johnís, NL A1B 4J6. The deadline for consultation submissions is December 15, 2008.

"Our government is committed to ensuring that we have the best available mix of policy and programs to help people achieve greater personal self-reliance and inclusion in Newfoundland and Labrador society." said Minister Skinner.

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Media contact:
Ronalda Walsh
Director of Communications
Department of Human Resources, Labour and Employment
709-729-0753, 699-7903
ronaldawalsh@gov.nl.ca

BACKGROUNDER

Schedule of Public Sessions

 

Date and Time                      Community                      Location

October 20: 7-9 p.m.             St. Johnís                          Battery Hotel
October 20: 7-9 p.m.             Stephenville                       Holiday Inn
October 21: 7-9 p.m.             Port aux Basques                Hotel Port aux Basques
October 22: 7-9 p.m.             Carbonear                          Fongís Motel
October 23: 7-9 p.m.             Clarenville                          St. Jude Hotel
October 23: 7-9 p.m.             Grand Falls-Windsor            Arts and Culture Centre
October 27: 7-9 p.m.             Happy Valley-Goose Bay      Labrador Inn
October 28: 10 a.m.-noon      Hopedale                          Amaguk Inn
October 28: 7-9 p.m.             Corner Brook                     Glynmill Inn
October 29: 1-3 p.m.             Labrador City                     Arts and Culture Centre
November 3: 7-9 p.m.            Harbour Breton                  Southern Port Hotel
November 4: 7-9 p.m.            Gander                             Albatross Motel
November 5: 7-9 p.m.            Marystown                         Hotel Marystown

November 10: 7-9 p.m.          Bonavista                         Hotel Bonavista
November 10: 7-9 p.m.         Plum Point                         Plum Point Hotel

Overview

The Provincial Government is now planning for the next phase of the strategy.

The 2008 Poverty Reduction Strategy consultations will further help to inform the Provincial Governmentís plans for the continued implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Poverty and social exclusion involve complex social and economic issues and have many causes and consequences. Key factors include a personís ability to earn an income; cope with higher costs such as adequate housing, heat, medications, transportation, education and training, family supports and nutritious food.

Poverty or low income is commonly measured by comparing income with the cost of living, or with average income levels. For individuals and families, poverty often refers to their own daily experiences coping with, and overcoming, these challenges. Poverty affects individuals, communities and the province as a whole.

In 2006, using Statistics Canadaís after-tax Low-Income Cut Offs (LICO), Newfoundland and Labrador had approximately 38,000 individuals living in poverty. This represents a decrease of almost 37 per cent from the 60,000 individuals living in poverty in 2004.

Key Poverty Reduction Strategy Themes

Eight key themes emerged from the 2005 Poverty Reduction consultations and guided the development of the Poverty Reduction Strategy. These are core to the strategic direction and public investment of the Provincial Government over the long-term in reducing, preventing and alleviating poverty in Newfoundland and Labrador:

  • Better coordination and awareness within the Provincial Government, between the Provincial Government and the community, and between community groups;
  • A stronger emphasis on education including early learning, the ability of the K to 12 system to meet the needs of all students, addressing low levels of literacy, student debt, and barriers experienced in pursuing post-secondary studies;
  • Reducing barriers experienced by Income Support clients to go to work or school and to raise Income Support rates to meet necessities;
  • Understanding and addressing the links between low income and health status;
  • Understanding and addressing employment and economic development; including low wages, poor benefits, the minimum wage rate, full-year and full-time employment, and the role of the Employment Insurance (EI) system;
  • Understanding and addressing the role that poverty plays in womenís inequality and the connections between violence and poverty;
  • Understanding and addressing the challenges faced by persons with disabilities, reducing barriers to their employment and encouraging greater inclusion in society;
  • Understanding and addressing the development of specific strategies for high concentrations of poverty and the cycle of poverty.
  • Poverty Reduction Strategy Goals and Objectives

    The strategy lists goals and objectives to help guide implementation. It outlines a plan for Newfoundland and Labrador to become the province with the least poverty.

    In summary these goals and objectives are:

    Goal 1: Improved access and co-ordination of services for those with low incomes

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

    Goal 2: A stronger social safety net

    • 2.1 Increased supports to enable people with disabilities to participate fully in society;
    • 2.2 Enhanced justice system supports for vulnerable people;
    • 2.3 Increased availability of affordable housing;
    • 2.4 Improved access to necessities for those most vulnerable to poverty;
    • 2.5 Increased Income Support rates.

    Goal 3: Improved earned incomes

    • 3.1 Fewer barriers to work and greater support for low-income workers;
    • 3.2 Greater supports for the development of employment skills;
    • 3.3 Greater supports for labour force participation and improved earnings from employment;
    • 3.4 Establish an alternative to Income Support for youth which allows for a co-ordinated service specific to their needs.

    Goal 4: Increased emphasis on early childhood development

  • 4.1 Strengthen the regulated early learning and child care system;
  • 4.2 Promotion of healthy child development;
  • 4.3 Strengthen early intervention services and programs.
  • Goal 5: A better educated population

    • 5.1 A K to 12 system where more students graduate;
    • 5.2 Increased responsiveness of the K to 12 system;
    • 5.3 Greater access to post-secondary education, literacy and adult basic education.

    2008 10 16                                                    3:10 p.m.


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