Human Resources, Labour and Employment
January 11, 2007
Poverty Reduction Agenda Moving Forward
The Williams Government continues to advance a series of positive and progressive measures to tackle poverty over the long term in Newfoundland and Labrador. Today, government is providing an update on the first goal of the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) � improved access and coordination of services for those with low incomes.
"Recently, I was pleased to hear the president of the National Anti-Poverty Organization publicly acknowledge the organization�s appreciation of this province�s effort and note that our approach should be used as a model for a national anti-poverty strategy," said the Honourable Paul Shelley, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment (HRLE).
The Poverty Reduction Strategy, a $64 million annual commitment forged in partnership with the broader community, is increasingly recognized both within and outside the province as the right way forward to significantly reduce poverty in Newfoundland and Labrador.
"As a result of a private member�s motion, I was delighted that the Poverty Reduction Strategy received unanimous support in the fall sitting of the House of Assembly. All members recognized that transforming Newfoundland and Labrador over a 10-year period from a province with the most poverty to a province with the least poverty goes beyond partisanship politics and is in everyone�s interest," said Minister Shelley.
Community consultations leading up to the development of the PRS strongly advocated for a cross-departmental and integrated approach that improves access and coordination of services for persons with low incomes. This keeps the interests of low income persons closely aligned to government�s overall planning and priorities agenda.
In support of this goal, the interdepartmental Ministerial Committee and the Officials Working Group met regularly to ensure a broad-based perspective exists and to bring ministerial leadership to the forefront in moving the PRS forward as a key part of government�s overall policy agenda.
Accountability is also extended through the practice of integrating the PRS into the other significant strategic planning measures of government. For example, HRLE included the PRS in its 2006/08 Strategic Plan. Furthermore, all departments are to give consideration to the interests of low-income residents when it comes to their respective policy development processes.
"The first goal of the strategy is about leadership and accountability for results; this is absolutely necessary in order to advance the poverty reduction strategy and bring government practice to bear with the interests of the community," said Minister Shelley.
Actions under the strategy include a commitment to review applications for programs and services with a view to streamline the process. As well, government will examine program eligibility requirements to ensure consistency and identify possible inequities with a view to improve services to low income persons. Departments are moving forward with this work.
Government is developing tools to help examine the combined impact of programs and the tax system to avoid unintended results for low income persons. For example, government moved quickly in May of 2006 to ensure Income Support client payments were not affected by the introduction of the federal Universal Child Care Benefit.
Another key element of the Poverty Reduction Strategy involves a firm commitment to work with Aboriginal people and improve their quality of life. The poverty reduction strategy acknowledges the particular needs of Aboriginal communities. It recognizes the importance of continued dialogue, engagement and collaboration with this community. It strengthens an integrated and coordinated approach to aboriginal affairs in the province. Last November, HRLE made a presentation at the Aboriginal Women�s Conference in Stephenville to solicit their views on measures to address poverty in their communities.
"Under the guidance and considerable personal support of Premier Williams, my colleagues and I are working together to implement the strategy and ensure that it remains accountable to the public and relevant to the needs of the community," said Minister Shelley.
Government will continue to provide regular updates to the public on the goals and objectives of the Poverty Reduction Strategy. For more information on the PRS and the initiatives and measures contained within it please visit: //www.gov.nl.ca/hrle/poverty/default.htm
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Goals and Objectives of the Poverty Reduction Strategy
Goal 1: Improved access and coordination of services for those with low incomes
1.1 Increased capacity within 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 disability 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 coordinated service specific to their needs
3.5 Develop and expand employment skills programs for vulnerable groups whose 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
2007 01 11 1:30 p.m.
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