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OPINION: Yes, more needs to be done

Family and Human Services Minister Tina Mundy speaks with Regina Younker, committee member of the Poverty Reduction Advisory Council, at the Faith Bible Church in Charlottetown on Thursday following an announcement regarding changes to the province’s social assistance benefits.
Family and Human Services Minister Tina Mundy speaks with Regina Younker, committee member of the Poverty Reduction Advisory Council, at the Faith Bible Church in Charlottetown following an announcement regarding changes to the province’s social assistance benefits. - Katie Smith

Poverty reduction action plan will build on government initiatives to reduce impact of poverty

BY TINA MUNDY

GUEST OPINION

The Prince Edward Island government is committed to supporting Islanders and families who need it the most.

Over the past three years, our provincial government and the federal government combined have invested more than $40 million in poverty-related initiatives each year. There are a number of tremendous initiatives that have been launched or are in progress to support Islanders and to make their lives better.

For example, the provincial government’s recent budget announced investments of $17 million in affordable housing over two years which includes up to 1,000 new low-income housing units in the next four years to help address housing challenges across the province.

RELATED: Mundy defends P.E.I.'s delayed poverty planhttp://www.theguardian.pe.ca/news/mundy-defends-peis-delayed-poverty-plan-163930/

There have been increases to child care subsidy that have helped more than 1,000 Island children as well as increases to food rates, personal comfort allowances and shelter rates. The introduction of a Grandparents and Care Providers Program provides assistance to grandparents of $700 per month, per child, as well as child care and children’s dental and drug coverage.

We also made major investments to help keep more money in the pockets of Islanders through initiatives such as the generic drug program, reestablishing home renovation programs, increases to school breakfast programs, increases to minimum wage and providing tax relief including 30,000 Islanders who no longer pay provincial income tax.

Significant changes were made recently to social assistance to empower Islanders and help them improve their lives. Enhancements include increased income and asset exemptions; child support exemptions; employment supports including medical, dental and optical for up 24 months; life skills and job training; and various administrative improvements for easier access to support.

These are just some of the many investments government has made to support Islanders.

It is important that we do not look at any one investment in isolation. The combination of several government initiatives together makes a real difference in the lives of many Islanders every day.

Government is aware of the recent report card on child and family poverty and we recognize that more needs to be done. The poverty reduction action plan, currently being developed in collaboration with community groups and municipalities – will build on many of government initiatives to reduce the impact of poverty. alone cannot address poverty and the action plan focuses on the role of all partners.

We will continue to work with individuals and families, community organizations, the business sector, and all levels of government so that every Islander is able to thrive in our Island communities.

We want all Islanders to have access to the tools they need so they can contribute to society as fully as possible and attain greater security for themselves and their families.

- Tina Mundy is P.E.I.’s minister of family and human services

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