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Advanced Education and Skills
Transportation and Works
Executive Council
Health and Community Services
April 24, 2012

Responsible Social Investments in Budget 2012
Include $150 Million for Poverty Reduction

Moving forward to provide strong social programming, including initiatives to prevent, reduce and alleviate poverty, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is making significant investments through Budget 2012 to help this province’s most vulnerable – including $150.8 million under the Poverty Reduction Strategy, an increase of approximately $11.3 million from last year.

“Current and future generations of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians need to be afforded every opportunity to be successful and contribute to the province’s prosperity – Budget 2012 is helping us achieve this,” said the Honourable Joan Burke, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills. “Through a long-term integrated approach and strategic investments under the Poverty Reduction Strategy, as well as initiatives that enhance social programming, we continue to lead the way in creating real change in the lives of vulnerable people throughout our province.”

Providing a Secure Social Safety Net
Through the Poverty Reduction Strategy, Budget 2012 includes new investments to enhance benefits and services within the Income Support Program including:

  • Elimination of the requirement for Income Support recipients to apply for Canada Pension Plan benefits at age 60, which means an estimated $500,000 in income for seniors; and,
  • $195,000 to expand the Earned Income Supplement project, assisting working single parents on Income Support achieve increased financial independence.

The Provincial Government will also provide an additional $5.1 million to continue to index Income Support rates. This will help ensure increases in cost-of-living do not impact individuals and families who receive benefits.

Building Social Supports Through the Justice System
Protecting the most vulnerable in society is an essential part of the justice system in Newfoundland and Labrador. Key Budget 2012 investments, totalling $1.3 million, are:

  • $526,000 for the continuation of the Specialized Family Violence Court;
  • $282,200 for programs and services in Natuashish and Sheshatshui based on the success of partnership projects with the Sheshatshui Innu First Nation; and,
  • $379,600 to support the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Internet Child Exploitation Unit.

In addition, the Provincial Government continues to invest in key areas of the justice system, including: $150,000 annually for the next four years to enhance the safety and security of adult probation offices throughout the province; $7 million since 2009 for the revitalization of the Newfoundland and Labrador corrections system; and, an additional $4.3 million since 2006 for Legal Aid for programming and positions.

Enhancing Housing and Community Supports
Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation (NLHC), under the Provincial Government’s long-term Social Housing Plan, Secure Foundations, will continue a sustained investment of $29.8 million to improve housing options, advance educational opportunities and create healthier communities for households with low income. NLHC’s initiatives supported through the Poverty Reduction Strategy for Budget 2012 are:

  • $1 million in additional funding to expand the Rent Supplement Program, bringing the total investment to $8 million in Budget 2012;
  • $1.8 million for the Rent-Geared-to-Income Adjustment Program, which helps to keep more disposable income in the hands of lower-income tenants;
  • $892,000 in eight NL Housing Community Centres and 11 neighbourhood centres;
  • $1 million investment in the Provincial Homelessness Fund; and,
  • $4 million investment for the Residential Energy Efficiency Program, which provides an average household energy saving of 35 per cent and cash saving of nearly $800 per year.

NLHC’s programming promotes housing stability for vulnerable people and is designed to help individuals stay in their homes or obtain affordable housing. Investments include:

  • $8 million to the Provincial Home Repair Program. This program provides approximately 2,500 low income homeowners with home upgrades; and,
  • $5.4 million investment in the Affordable Housing Initiative to enable approximately 245 additional affordable housing units to be constructed. The total three-year investment for this program is $16.2 million.

Preventing Violence
The Provincial Government understands the importance of providing strong social supports in communities throughout the province. Budget 2012 will allocate:

  • $2.1 million to violence prevention, including $820,000 this year to 10 Regional Co-ordinating Committees Against Violence;
  • A five per cent increase, through the Poverty Reduction Strategy, for eight Status of Women Centres in Newfoundland and Labrador, which will each receive $127,625 annually, up from $55,000 in 2004;
  • $100,000 annual funding to the Multicultural Women's Organization of Newfoundland and Labrador;
  • $100,000 continued support to the Newfoundland and Labrador Aboriginal Women's Network;
  • $105,000 annual funding to the Transition House Association of Newfoundland and Labrador;
  • $110,000 annual funding to the Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre;
  • $452,700 in continued support to the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women; and,
  • $125,000 through the Poverty Reduction Strategy for continued support of the Inuit Women Capacity Building Project.

Working Towards a Better Educated Population
The Provincial Government recognizes that in today’s global community, education is vital for success. However, there is a wide range of complex issues that can impede success in the school system. Budget 2012 investments support innovative ways to help students continue their education, and succeed in life. Initiatives include:

  • $532,600 to continue support of the Positive Actions for Student Success (PASS) program – a two-year program designed to help disengaged and at-risk youth remain in school. This initiative currently provides support for over 250 students across the province; and,
  • $675,000 for the Education Incentive Program delivered by NLHC. This program was introduced in 2007 to address low school attendance rates by providing a $50 monthly incentive for families with children in Grades 7-12.

Improving Access to Key Health Services
The Provincial Government remains committed to providing enhanced diagnostic and therapeutic dental services to individuals in vulnerable circumstances, including seniors and those in receipt of income support. Budget 2012 includes an investment of $6.7 million to support the Adult Dental Program, which was implemented in January 2012.

The Provincial Government also remains focused on investing in the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program, which supports the work of the Poverty Reduction Strategy. As noted under Health and Community Services, Budget 2012 allocates $155 million annually for the provision of the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program.

Ensuring Inclusion and Accessibility for All
On April 19, the Provincial Government launched the Strategy for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities - Access. Inclusion. Equality., another responsible social investment to support prosperity through improved inclusion and accessibility, helping ensure all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have equal opportunities and choices.

The strategy provides a blueprint for moving forward in removing and preventing barriers, engaging public, private and volunteer sectors and changing how society views disability. Various initiatives that complement the strategy are supported in Budget 2012 through an investment of $6.5 million.

“Budget 2012 investments will help to secure the social safety net throughout this province, with strategic investments that address poverty and an array of other social issues that impact society’s most vulnerable,” said Minister Burke. “This government will continue to provide supports to these areas so all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can have equal opportunity to participate in a time of unprecedented economic growth in this province.”

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Media contact:

John Tompkins
Director of Communications
Department of Advanced Education and Skills
709-729-0753, 728-7762
Vanessa Colman-Sadd
Director of Communications
Department of Justice
709-729-6985, 682-6593
Jason Card
Director of Communications
Department of Transportation and Works
709-729-3015, 699-0470
Michelle Hunt
Director of Communications
Department of Child, Youth and Family Services
709-729-5148, 725-1593
Heather May
Director of Communications
Department of Education
709-729-0048, 697-5061
Jennifer Tulk
Director of Communications
Department of Health and Community Services
709-729-1377, 699-6524

2012 04 24                                   2:35 p.m.

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