Province Announces New Support for Nova Scotia Families

Community Services/Premier's Office

April 7, 2011 1:56 PM

NOTE: A social media version of this release, with video clips, is available at http://gov.ns.ca/news/smr/2011-04-07-Families/ . Downloadable hi-res photos and audio clips will be added after the event.

About 240,000 Nova Scotia families will soon have more money to make ends meet thanks to new support announced by Premier Darrell Dexter today, April 7.

The province will invest more than $18 million over the next year to help low-income families regain their independence and pay for family priorities.

"This is the largest investment in Nova Scotia families and children in over a decade," said Premier Dexter. "Raising strong, healthy children is key to Nova Scotia's social and economic future. We're working hard to make life better for families. We are moving the province on a new path forward while living within our means."

"Families are our priority, which is why we're making investments while other provinces and countries are cutting social programs," said Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse. "Investing in Nova Scotia families helps them provide for themselves, and contribute to their communities and the province's economy."

The new investments include:
-- A 22 per cent increase per child, per month to the Nova Scotia Child Benefit B, the first increase in a decade. This increase will help more than 23,000 families provide healthier food and other support for their children.
-- A $15 per month increase in the Income Assistance personal allowance to help more than 31,000 adults better provide for themselves and their families.
-- Indexing the Affordable Living Tax Credit and the Poverty Reduction Credit to keep up with inflation, which will help almost 240,000 Nova Scotia families pay for necessities like food and clothing.
-- Adding 250 child care subsidies to help more families access affordable child care.
-- Increasing foster care rates by more than 10 per cent, or about $50 per child, per month to help about 800 foster families provide homes for children in need.
-- Allowing working Income Assistance clients to keep more money each month. They currently keep 30 per cent of earnings. They will now keep the first $150 earned each month, plus 30 per cent of the remaining amount. Disabled Income Assistance recipients in supportive employment will keep the first $300, double the current rate, plus 30 per cent of the remaining earnings.

For a single parent with two kids receiving Income Assistance, the changes could add up to more than $420 extra per year for those not working and almost $1,700 more a year for those on Income Assistance with a job.

These new initiatives are on top of improvements made to the Employment Support and Income Assistance program introduced in January that fully fund eye exams, change the definition of common-law partner, double asset levels, and made sure benefits are not reduced when adult children living at home are pursuing post-secondary education.

Since 2009, government has made other, significant efforts to help families, including increasing minimum wage, building more affordable housing and removing the provincial portion of the HST from children's shoes, clothing and diapers.

"As a former child in care, and now as a foster parent, I know how important foster families are to the children who need a safe place to heal," said Paula LeBlanc, a foster parent in Dartmouth. "It's heartwarming to see that government recognizes the value of foster families and continues to support us so we can give children the loving homes they need to grow."

"Offering practical assistance for children and families, tending to the basic necessities of life, providing shelter for homeless people, rehabilitating people who have lost control of their lives to an addiction, integrating people back into society -- all these things would not be possible without the province's help, "said Major Larry Martin, divisional commander, Maritime division, The Salvation Army.

This year's budget also invests $42.5 million to fix Canada's weakest student assistance system, and make post-secondary education more affordable.

The improvements take effect July 1. More information is available at www.gov.ns.ca/coms.


FOR BROADCAST USE:

     About 240-thousand Nova Scotia families will soon have more

money to make ends meet thanks to new support announced by

Premier Darrell Dexter today (April 7th).

     The province will invest more than 18-million-dollars over

the next year to help low-income families regain their

independence and pay for family priorities.

     The support includes increases in income assistance, child

care subsidies, money for foster care families, and more.

     Premier Dexter says Nova Scotians want to be independent and

provide for their families. He says stronger people make for

stronger communities and a stronger, healthier province.

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Media Contacts: Janet Lynn McNeil
                Premier=s Office
                902-237-4287
                E-mail: mcneiljl@gov.ns.ca

                Susan Tate
                Community Services
                902-424-4038
                E-mail: tatese@gov.ns.ca

                Brooke Armstrong
                Community Services
                902-424-4844
                E-mail: armstrbj@gov.ns.ca