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Poverty Reduction Strategy FAQ

  1. What is the Poverty Reduction Strategy and why does this province need one?
  2. What is poverty?
  3. Who is living in poverty in Newfoundland and Labrador?
  4. How will this strategy help?
  5. What are other governments doing to reduce poverty?
  6. What is the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador doing now to reduce poverty?
  7. What advice have community groups given Government?
  8. How should Government reduce poverty?
  9. How will we know if the Poverty Reduction Strategy is working?

 

1. What is the Poverty Reduction Strategy and why does this province need one?

In 2006, Newfoundland and Labrador became only the second province in Canada to have a Poverty Reduction Strategy that sets some specific goals and actions to reduce poverty. This province needed a strategy to make sure a long term approach is taken to prevent, reduce and alleviate poverty because there are many people in this province living in poverty. Poverty reduction is about both improving the well-being and quality of life of people living in poverty and ensuring a strong and prosperous future for our province.

In order to be accountable and measure progress, the goals and actions (initiatives) in the strategy will be monitored as part of the reporting and consultation processes and will be adjusted as necessary. For more details about the strategy, download the report. PDF (1.6 MB)

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2. What is poverty?

Poverty means what happens when people do not have enough money to live comfortably or to take part in community or family activities. Working does not necessarily mean people are not poor – some people make low wages; others have very high expenses. There is no agreement on the best measure of poverty nor is there an official poverty line in Canada. Statistics Canada produces three statistical measures of poverty. These are: Low Income Cut-Off (LICO) both before and after-tax, Low Income Measure (LIM) and the Market Basket Measure (MBM). Newfoundland and Labrador is currently using the Low Income Cut-Off (LICO) measure of poverty which is the most commonly used by Statistics Canada to identify individuals and families who are substantially worse off than the average family.

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3. Who is living in poverty in Newfoundland and Labrador?

According to Statistics Canada in 2004, 62,000 individuals living in 33,000 families in this province are living in poverty. Some people are more likely to live in long-term poverty than others. Families led by single mothers, people who are between 55-64 years of age, persons with disabilities and aboriginal people are most vulnerable. In Newfoundland and Labrador, about 15.5 percent of children and 2.1 percent of seniors aged 65 and over are poor. Newfoundland and Labrador has the third highest rate of child poverty and the lowest rate of seniors in poverty than any of the other provinces in Canada.

Some people live in poverty for short periods of time. Others have been living in poverty for most or all of their lives. From 1996 to 2001, 26.3 percent of people in the province were poor at one point or another.

Living in poverty for long periods of time can affect a person’s well-being. Poverty can lead to long-term health problems from not eating nutritious food or from not living in proper housing. Poverty can hold children back from certain opportunities such as participating in after school activities and from attending university or college.

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4. How will this strategy help?

This strategy will help people who live in poverty in many ways. One of the important ways is through a variety of poverty reduction initiatives that are approved each year in the provincial budget. In the 2006 Budget, the Provincial Government committed over $60 million dollars yearly to fund 20 poverty reduction initiatives. These initiatives are targeted to help people with low income. The strategy has short, medium and long term goals that will help prevent, alleviate and reduce poverty now and in the future. It will also commit government departments and our community partners to work together to make sure those programs and services are coordinated and integrated to increase their efficiency and effectiveness.

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5. What are other governments doing to reduce poverty?

Quebec is the only province in Canada that has an action plan to address poverty. Other provinces and territories in Canada do have programs to help people who are poor, including programs to increase employment and offer services and supports.

Other countries are working on reducing poverty. For example, In Ireland the government has raised social assistance rates and has made support programs to help people find work available to more people. In doing so, that country reports that over 400,000 people have found their way out of poverty.

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6. What is the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador doing now to reduce poverty?

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has many programs and services in place to help reduce poverty. Some of these are delivered through the tax system. The Government is also working to improve economic growth within the province and to create more jobs. The Government offers many different programs and services aimed at helping people who live in poverty. There were 20 initiatives announced in the 2006 Budget that were specifically focused on prevention, reduction and alleviation of poverty. For details and description of the poverty reduction initiatives approved in the 2006 budget, please download the report. PDF (1.6 MB)

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7. What advice have community groups given Government?

Community groups play a very important role in helping government to create policies. This is especially true for policies around poverty reduction. Community groups have participated in focus groups and provided written submissions in the development of the strategy. As well, community groups are consulted and provide feedback on the direction of the strategy and its initiatives on an ongoing basis.

The strategy includes mechanisms for ongoing input.

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8. How should Government reduce poverty?

Poverty is a complex issue and needs many solutions. We need to do things that will mean fewer people are poor, ease the effects of poverty, and prevent poverty from happening in the first place. To do this, we must look at why people are poor and take into account the needs of different groups of people such as single parents, persons with disabilities, people working for low wages, and aboriginal people and others. Solutions must include different partners including the federal government, aboriginal groups, community based groups, business and labour.

It is important to get the right policy mix so that poverty will be reduced. Getting the right mix means we have to look at poverty from many different points of view. Having only one solution, such as increasing Income Support rates, will not be enough to reduce poverty in our province.

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9. How will we know if the Poverty Reduction Strategy is working?

In order to track progress and make changes as necessary, it is essential that we can measure success. Government committed to reporting on progress over the course of the strategy. While our overall key directions are long-term, our goals do have measurable outcomes which will be tracked over time. The goals in the 2006 Strategy document are for four years and the actions are for two years. A priority will be working to improve our capacity to measure and track progress along the way.

There are processes in place, such as the regular evaluation and monitoring of programs, and the reporting of outcomes in departmental annual reports which will form a critical part of our ability to assess how we are doing. As we move forward, other indicators will be added as necessary. Several reporting processes will be used:

  • The Minister of Advanced Education and Skills will give a statement of progress each year to the House of Assembly.
  • Every two years a report will be published outlining progress by reporting on indicators, including approaches for addressing gaps.
  • Departmental annual reports and other accountability mechanisms will document the success of departmental initiatives, including coordination and integration efforts.

We welcome you to offer suggestions on how poverty can be reduced in Newfoundland and Labrador from your perspective. We can be reached through the toll free Poverty Reduction line at 1-866-883-6600, or by e-mailing us at povertyreduction@gov.nl.ca.

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