Social Development

Extended Health Card benefit period extended (09/12/09)

NB 1956

Dec. 9, 2009

FREDERICTON (CNB) - The Extended Health Card benefit will now be available for up to three years for clients who are leaving social assistance for a job, Social Development Minister Kelly Lamrock announced today.

"The Extended Health Card benefit was created as a way to eliminate a barrier to employment and ease the transition to work for social assistance clients," said Lamrock. "What we heard during the engagement process on poverty reduction was that it certainly helped, but once the benefit expired, the client was often left without any coverage. This extension will allow us to continue providing Extended Health Card benefits for clients who have found employment, while we work towards a longer-term solution."

The benefit was previously good for up to 12 months for clients leaving social assistance for employment. Effective immediately, clients may now renew their benefit for up to 36 months.

The Extended Health Card benefit can cover such items as prescription drugs, vision care, dental care, ambulance fees, and other medical necessities such as convalescence and rehabilitation supplies. This will benefit about 2,600 people over the course of a fiscal year, at a cost of about $2.7 million.

This is a commitment made by government under Overcoming Poverty Together: The New Brunswick Economic and Social Inclusion Plan. The plan was adopted in November 2009 by the 50 members of the Final Forum representing government, the business and community sectors, and residents who have experienced living in poverty.

Overcoming Poverty Together: The New Brunswick Economic and Social Inclusion Plan aims to reduce income poverty in the province by 25 per cent, and deep income poverty by 50 per cent, by 2015.

09/12/09

MEDIA CONTACT: Alison Aiton, communications, Department of Social Development, 506-444-2416.

09/12/09