March 21, 2005
(Human Resources, Labour and Employment)

Preparing our youth for success

Joan Burke, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment, says Budget 2005 places a renewed focus on the young people of Newfoundland and Labrador, especially those youth who live in poverty and who rely on income support.

"Low education levels, a lack of a high school diploma and limited work experience are key characteristics of a dependence on income support from one generation to the next and a cycle of poverty," said Minister Burke. "In 2003 youth, 18 to 29 years old, represented one-quarter of the income support caseload and almost 50 per cent of all new entrants. These numbers are alarming and are an indication of many complex issues that require a focused, coordinated approach."

To this end, the Williams government will provide more low income youth with an opportunity to participate in employment planning and services. This approach will include the following Budget 2005 measures:

  • $6.2 million to the Student Investment and Opportunities Corporation (SIOC), with a target to increase participation of youth-at-risk from seven per cent to 50 per cent within three years. In addition, at least 75 per cent of programming dollars will be directed to our youth living in rural Newfoundland and Labrador who may have limited opportunity for summer employment;
  • A reinvestment of $2 million over three years in employment and career programming, beginning with $500,000 in 2005-06 to direct more services to income support clients, including youth;
  • $600,000 annually for the creation of a high school completion incentive, starting September 1, 2005 to encourage young people in income support families to finish school;
  • An additional $250,000 for youth programming to, among other things, pilot ways for low-income youth to participate in recreational and extra-curricular activities; and,
  • Continued support for the Kids Eat Smart Foundation of $250,000.

Part of government�s mandate is to help young people get the support they need to prepare for work, allowing them to move off assistance and into meaningful employment. "These initiatives and indeed, the department�s overall approach, focus clearly on those in our province who are most in need," said Minister Burke. "We know the positive results of helping young people early and taking a preventive approach. Doing so means a better future for our youth and a better future for the province. A recent review of our programs and services has resulted in the development of a coordinated approach that works hand in hand with our poverty reduction initiatives and will help us achieve our ultimate goal of self-reliance for our province and our citizens."

Media contact: Jacquelyn Howard, Communications, (709) 729-4062, 689-2624

2005 03 21                       3:15 p.m.

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