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March 29, 2010

Making the Right Investments to Support Self-Reliance

The Williams Government is continuing to invest in its Poverty Reduction Strategy with a financial commitment of almost $134 million in Budget 2010. This funding will create new supports and enhance existing services to ensure the province’s social safety net can address the needs of individuals and families with low income.

"The fact that our province is now recognized as a national leader in the fight against poverty is a source of great pride and we are determined to maintain our momentum," said the Honourable Susan Sullivan, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment and lead minister for the Poverty Reduction Strategy. "I am confident our investments in Budget 2010 will help break the cycle of poverty facing many individuals and families throughout our province and will move us closer to our goal of becoming the province with the lowest poverty rates in Canada by 2014."

Supporting Social Infrastructure

More than $1.7 million in new funding will be invested in supports and infrastructure that address housing and homelessness issues and enable women at risk to make a successful transition toward greater self-reliance:

  • $2.4 million in funding for the Provincial Government’s Supportive Living Community Partnership Initiative, doubling the amount of $1.2 million provided last year. This commitment will significantly enhance support for community-based initiatives that help individuals with complex needs overcome homelessness.
  • $125,000 to help Aboriginal women in Labrador develop and deliver a series of capacity-building workshops in the five Inuit communities on the North Coast. These workshops will empower Aboriginal women to access programs and services that will result in real differences in their lives and allow them to share in available social and economic benefits.
  • $100,000 in operational funding for the Newfoundland Aboriginal Women's Network to address issues in their communities such as poverty and violence, in ways that are culturally-sensitive.
  • $70,000 in additional funding for transitional employment support services for victims of violence. This will bring the total investment in these specific employment supports to $164,000 and will provide enhanced access and awareness for individuals in need of these specialized supports.
  • $44,000 in additional funding for women’s centres, bringing the total investment for 2010-11 to $406,000. This increase follows through on the Provincial Government’s commitment in Budget 2007 of an annualized five per cent funding increase to the eight women’s centres located across Newfoundland and Labrador. Increased funding will enable these centres to maintain current activity levels during tough financial times.
  • $200,000 to fund the continuation of the Home Heating Oil Tank Storage Replacement Assistance Program, an initiative that is complementary to the Poverty Reduction Strategy. The Provincial Government is continuing its commitment to support low-income households with this funding. For homeowners whose annual family net income is less than $22,397, the assistance amount is 50 per cent of the installed tank or $300, whichever is less.

Supporting a Healthy Population

An additional investment of $2.5 million will be made in 2010-11 to support improvements to the Access Plan under the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program (NLPDP). The Access Plan gives individuals and families with low incomes access to eligible prescription medications. The total investment for the NLPDP in Budget 2010 is $139.6 million.

"Income thresholds under the Access Plan were originally established in 2006 and since that time, minimum wage earners have begun to earn considerably more money due to regular increases to the minimum wage and, as a result, may have become ineligible for the program," said Minister Sullivan. "To help address this, Budget 2010 substantially increases the income thresholds for eligibility for the Access Plan, thereby extending access to prescription drug coverage to more low-income earners."

The amount of coverage individuals receive is determined by net income level and family status. By increasing the current thresholds as outlined in the table below, more individuals will be able to qualify for financial assistance in the purchase of eligible prescription medications. The new thresholds will come into effect following the regular annual reassessment process that will take place later this summer.

  Current Thresholds

(net annual income)

New Thresholds

(net annual income)

Families with children, including single parents $30,000 or less $42,870 or less
Couples without children $21,000 or less $30,009 or less
Single individuals $19,000 or less $27,151 or less

Enhancing Early Childhood Development

$380,000 will be invested in an Early Childhood Learning Framework, Learning From the Start. Consultations will be held with parents, educators and community partners on the proposed framework components, which would include support for parents of children from birth to age three; more formal learning opportunities for four-year olds; and full-day Kindergarten. This budget initiative will be used for the consultations and development of resource kits for children and families.

Enhancing Justice Supports for Vulnerable People

The continuation of the Family Violence Intervention Court in St. John’s will be supported with funding of $519,000, allowing continued work by a multi-disciplinary team to enhance victim safety and offender accountability. The ultimate goal of this initiative is to decrease the incidents of family violence through addressing root causes.

Funding of $310,000 will be provided for the expansion of the Family Justice Services Division of the Department of Justice. This division works with families experiencing separation and/or divorce and deals with matters relating to custody, access and child support. Family Justice Services emphasizes the best interest of children and provides options for resolutions outside of the court process such as mediation, education and counselling services.

"The investments we have made in poverty reduction this year are supportive of the long-term, comprehensive approach we have used since 2006 when we first launched our strategy," said Minister Sullivan. "2010 represents an important year for our fight against poverty, as we will be formulating an action plan that will carry us forward to 2014. Over these next four years we will remain committed to working in partnership with advocates, experts, and persons with low income to prevent, reduce and alleviate poverty. Together, our efforts will ensure the best possible environment for our children and our future."

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Media contacts:

Jennifer Collingwood
Director of Communications
Department of Human Resources, Labour and Employment
709-729-0753, 690-2498
jennifercollingwood@gov.nl.ca
Tara Power
Director of Communications
Department of Education
709-729-0048, 757-5953
tarapower@gov.nl.ca
Tracy Barron
Director of Communications
Women’s Policy Office
709-729-5282, 690-8241
tracybarron@gov.nl.ca
Ronalda Walsh
Director of Communications
Department of Finance
709-729-6830, 685-1741
ronaldawalsh@gov.nl.ca
Tansy Mundon
Director of Communications
Department of Health and Community Services
709-729-1377, 685-2646
tansymundon@gov.nl.ca
Ken Morrissey
Director of Communications
Department of Justice
709-729-6985, 685-6612
kenmorrissey@gov.nl.ca

 
2010 03 29                                                     2:35 p.m.
 


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