April 10, 2001
FREDERICTON (CNB) - Government will invest $684 million, an increase of about $30 million over last year, in families and community services in New Brunswick, Family and Community Services Minister Percy Mockler announced today.
"We are building a more competitive province economically - but we will continue to be more compassionate - while taking a balanced approach," Mockler said. "This balanced approach means taking care of the urgent needs of today while providing for the families of tomorrow."
Highlights of the budget for Family and Community Services for 2001 - 2002 include:
-An increase of $33.7 million for the Family and Community Social Services Division including $7.3 million for an Early Childhood Development Agenda;
-Forty-five new social workers and 14 new speech language pathologists;
-An increase of $1.2 million for the Disability Supplement; and
-An increase of $2.6 million for Housing Repair Assistance.
"The $7.3 million for the Early Childhood Development Agenda is in addition to the $26.5 million the province currently invests in early childhood development," Mockler said. "I believe this substantial first investment will help our day cares enhance the high level of care they currently provide to the children of New Brunswick."
The Early Childhood Development Agenda includes the following initiatives to ensure that young children reach their full potential:
-Prenatal Benefit Program ($1.8 million) to provide low income pregnant women with the financial resources and information they need to make healthy food and lifestyle choices throughout their pregnancies.
-Enhanced Child Day Care Services ($3 million) to increase the availability and quality of infant child care; increase access to affordable professional training for child care workers; and help day-care centres enhance the high level of care they currently provide to the young children of New Brunswick.
-Child Witnesses of Family Violence Program ($400,000) to provide interventions, such as play therapy, to pre-school children in transition houses in New Brunswick who have witnessed spousal assault.
-Community Capacity Building for Children and Families ($225,000) to help interested communities to support parents in the healthy development of pre-schoolers.
-Excellence in Parenting Initiative ($25,000) to provide parent information, education and support services to parents of pre-school age children.
-Enhancements to the Early Childhood Initiatives ($1.4 million). This initiative will reduce the waiting lists in Early Intervention and Integrated Day Care Services; increase accessibility to integrated day care services for children of working parents eligible for ECI services and who may require a full time support worker to participate in the activities of the child care facility. These children would have congenital challenges such as autism, cerebral palsy and Down's syndrome; and to pilot a community-based program in the Woodstock region to provide screening and early intervention services to promote secure attachments between at-risk parents and their newborns.
-Early Language Program for Pre-school Children ($450,000) to be piloted in the Saint John and Acadie/Bathurst regions to help parents and caregivers of preschool children who have, or are at risk of having, speech, language and learning disorders.
The minister also announced 25 additional social workers to help in the adoption of more than 600 New Brunswick children who are under his legal care. The department will also hire 20 more social workers in child protection.
"In 1999-2000, we added 36 public health nurses to work with vulnerable children and their families: 18 to work in child protection and 18 to work with the early childhood initiative program," Mockler said. "With the addition of 14 speech language pathologists, that brings the total number of new staff to 95, who will bring their skills, expertise and dedication to caring for our children, our youngest and most vulnerable residents."
The Department of Family and Community Services will also invest an additional $21.8 million to respond to the rising need for long-term care for seniors and adults with disabilities who may choose to live in their own homes or in a residential facility.
"Safe, adequate and affordable housing is fundamental to the family and the community," Mockler said.
The 2001-2002 Housing Budget consists of $69.7 million in ordinary funding, and $7.1 million in loans and advances.
The $69.7 million in ordinary funding represents an increase of $2.6 million from the previous year. This increase is the result of additional federal funding to improve repair assistance programming to help low-income New Brunswickers remain in their homes and to help prevent homelessness.
The Early Childhood Development Agenda is available on the Internet at: http://www.gnb.ca/Fcs-sfc/ECDAgenda.pdf
Fact sheets with details of program funding are available on the Internet at: http://www.gnb.ca/Fcs-sfc/backgrounders.html.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Mary McIntosh, communications, Family and Community Services, 506-444-3684; Vicky Deschênes, communications, 506-444-4558.