Executive Council
Seniors, Wellness and Social Development

October 16, 2015

Investing in a Shared Prosperity

Newfoundland and Labrador has Lowest Level of Poverty in Canada

Tomorrow (Saturday, October 17) is United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty – a time to acknowledge the most recent developments in the fight against poverty in Newfoundland and Labrador. The latest data (2013) from Statistics Canada’s Low Income Cut Offs – After Tax (LICO-AT) shows the province now has the lowest level of poverty in Canada.

“In 2003, our government made a bold commitment to transform this province from one with the most poverty to one with the least within 10 years. And we’ve done just that. Statistics Canada information confirms that Newfoundland and Labrador has the lowest level of poverty in Canada. In fact, there are almost 38,000 fewer people living in poverty in this province than there were in 2003 – and the percentage of our population receiving income support, at 6.4 per cent, is the lowest ever recorded in this province. This is an incredible achievement, by any measure, and one in which we are justifiably proud.”
- The Honourable Paul Davis, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador

The Provincial Government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, released in 2006, has seen more than $1.2 billion invested in programs and initiatives designed to prevent, reduce and alleviate poverty in Newfoundland and Labrador. Some examples of initiatives are highlighted in the backgrounder below and an infographic outlining key facts and figures is available at: www.swsd.gov.nl.ca/photos/2015/PRS_info.jpg

“Even as we acknowledge how far we have come, we recognize that more work needs to be done. There are still people among us who, for various reasons, live in poverty. That is why we completed a public engagement process earlier this year to help inform a second Poverty Reduction Strategy Action Plan, which is currently under development. As always, my hope is that we can eradicate poverty in Newfoundland and Labrador altogether, ensuring all of our residents have an opportunity to focus on being healthy, active, engaged, contributing members of society.”
- The Honourable Clyde Jackman, Minister of Seniors, Wellness and Social Development

The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty has been observed every year since 1993, when the United Nations General Assembly designated the day to promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution in all countries. For more information, see: www.un.org/en/events/povertyday/ external link.

For more information on the Poverty Reduction Strategy, see: www.swsd.gov.nl.ca/poverty/.

QUICK FACTS:

  • Tomorrow (Saturday, October 17) is International Day for the Eradication of Poverty – a time to acknowledge the most recent developments in the fight against poverty in Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador has the lowest level of poverty in Canada, according to Statistics Canada’s Low Income Cut Offs – After Tax (LICO-AT) for 2013, the most recent data available.
  • There are also almost 38,000 fewer people living in poverty in this province, according to the most recent Newfoundland and Labrador Market Basket Measure (2012).
  • As of September 2015, 6.4 per cent of the population is receiving Income Support – the lowest percentage ever recorded in Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • Since 2006, more than $1.2 billion has been invested in Poverty Reduction Strategy initiatives designed to prevent, reduce and alleviate poverty in Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • For more information on the Poverty Reduction Strategy, see: www.swsd.gov.nl.ca/poverty/.

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The Honourable Clyde Jackman, Minister of Seniors, Wellness and Social Development, joined a gathering of community stakeholders involved in poverty reduction issues where he announced that Newfoundland and Labrador now has the lowest level of poverty in Canada – a significant improvement over 2003, when the province recorded the highest level of poverty in the country – October 16, 2015.

Media contacts:

Heather MacLean
Director of Communications
Office of the Premier
709-729-3581
heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca
Donna Ivey
Special Assistant, Communications
Office of the Premier
709-729-3551
donnaivey@gov.nl.ca
Heather May
Director of Communications
Department of Seniors, Wellness and Social Development
709-729-0928, 697-5061
heathermay@gov.nl.ca

BACKGROUNDER
Poverty Reduction Strategy Highlights

Newfoundland and Labrador’s Poverty Reduction Strategy is recognized across the country as a progressive, and successful, approach to preventing, reducing and alleviating poverty. Some initiatives which have had a positive impact on poverty include:

Child Care Services Subsidy
The Provincial Government has increased the Child Care Services Subsidy so that eligible families with low income can have some, or all, of their regulated child care costs covered. See: www.ed.gov.nl.ca/edu/family/childcare/childcaresubsidy.html.

Income Support
Since 2006, there has been a 24.5 per cent increase in basic individual and family Income Support benefits. See: www.aes.gov.nl.ca/income-support/.

Increased Support to Community Partners
There has been increased support to community partners working with vulnerable populations, including women’s centres, Newfoundland and Labrador Housing community and neighbourhood centres, and Community Youth Networks. More children and youth in low income families are also able to access sport and recreation activities through increased support for such programs as Jumpstart and Kidsport. See: www.swsd.gov.nl.ca/recreation/financial_assistance/canadian_tire_jumpstart.html and www.swsd.gov.nl.ca/recreation/financial_assistance/kidsport.html.

K-12 Textbooks
Textbooks are now provided, at no charge to parents, for all grades in the Kindergarten to Grade 12 school system. Instructional grants to school boards were also increased to allow for the elimination of standard school fees, as well as the cost to parents for prescribed workbooks and other consumables.

Low Income Seniors Benefit
Budget 2015 increased the Low Income Seniors benefit by $1.7 million, for a total of $42.1 million. As a result, about 43,000 households are receiving this benefit, to a maximum of $1,059. See: www.fin.gov.nl.ca/fin/tax_programs_incentives/low_income_seniors.html.

Low Income Tax Reduction
Low income tax reduction allows people working for low wages to keep more of the money they earn. For the 2014 taxation year, individuals with net income up to $18,547, and families with net income up to $31,362, pay no provincial income tax. Individuals with net income up to $22,815, and families with net income up to $38,006, receive partial reductions. See: www.fin.gov.nl.ca/fin/tax_programs_incentives/personal/lowincometaxreduction.html.

Minimum Wage
The minimum wage in Newfoundland and Labrador has increased from $6 an hour in 2006 to $10.50.

Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program (NLPDP)
Newfoundland and Labrador has expanded its provincial prescription drug coverage to cover people working for low wages, with coverage now provided to about 46,000 additional people (including low-income earners and their families and individuals with high medication costs relative to their income). See: www.health.gov.nl.ca/health/prescription/.

Supportive Living Program
The Supportive Living Program funds community-based initiatives that provide supportive housing to individuals with complex needs. Providing people with safe and appropriate housing and the supports they need, at the same time, prevents homelessness and allows people to build on their strengths. Through the Homelessness Fund and other supports, additional funding is also dedicated annually to promote housing stability and prevent homelessness. See: www.nlhc.nf.ca/programs/programsSlp.html external link.

Transition to Employment
The Provincial Government has implemented a range of supports so that individuals receiving Income Support can make the transition to employment. Examples include the Earned Income Supplement for single parents; increased earnings exemptions for Income Support clients; a job start benefit and overlapping benefits for the first month of employment, and changing the rent-geared-to-income formula for social housing tenants. See: www.aes.gov.nl.ca/income-support/movingintoworkforce.html.

2015 10 16                             10:05 a.m.