June 6, 2000
FREDERICTON (CNB) - A $40 million increase in funding to long term care and child protection, a new annual supplement for the disabled and plans for the redesign of foster homes were unveiled today under the estimates of the new department of Family and Community Services.
"This emphasis and new funding demonstrate our commitment to help the most vulnerable of New Brunswickers," Family and Community Services Minister Percy Mockler said.
Of the $40 million increase, $30.67 million has also been allotted to Long Term Care Services, including $19.8 million for long-term, in-home services to allow almost 9,000 disabled adults and seniors in New Brunswick to remain in their homes. Government has also increased the maximum rate - from $9.50 to $10.50 per hour - paid to home support agencies providing service to long term care clients. Two million dollars has been added to the budget to cover this increase in the hourly rate, the first since 1996.
In addition, a budget increase of $1 million in the current year also provides a new annual supplement to certified deaf, blind or disabled clients. Phased in over four years, the supplement consists of $250 this year and grows each year until it reaches $1,000 per year by 2003. The budget also added $7.19 million to child welfare services for young people living in foster and group homes. An additional $800,000 will provide for new investments in the training of foster parents.
Family and Community Services is a large department. The total budget for 2000-2001 is $654.7 million dollars and is allocated to four key areas of service: Human Resources Development and Income Security, Nursing Homes, Social Housing and Family and Community Social Services.
"Protecting and supporting vulnerable children and their families is a priority for the department, and for the Government of New Brunswick," the minister said. "Therefore, we are actively taking measures to ensure additional funding is available to meet the challenges ahed in the funding of long term care and special care homes."
The minister acknowledged the challenge faced by foster families in New Brunswick and noted that the additional $800,000 for Foster Family redesign will be used for mandatory training of foster parents. This training will develop their skills and help them respond to the needs of the children and youth in their care.
"Foster homes provide safe and nurturing places for children-at-risk when living at home is not an option," Mockler said. "Foster parents need our support to provide this service, and to help them meet the challenges of caring for vulnerable children."
Mockler also noted that people with long-term disabilities face considerable health and disability related costs and announced the department is increasing the financial support available for people who are certified disabled.
Almost 4,000 certified deaf, blind and disabled clients are eligible for this new Disability Supplement which will give them an additional $1,000 per year, to be phased in over the next four years. This represents a $5 million increase in supplements for disabled New Brunswickers once it is fully implemented.
The supplement represents a budget base increase of $1million in the current year, and an estimated cumulative increase of $5,323,000 in the budget base by year four. The total cost over four years adds up to a total of $12,282,500.
MEDIA CONTACT: Brent Staeben, communications, Family and Community Services, 506-453-2712.