FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation welcomes the major changes to social assistance policies announced recently by Social Development Minister  Madeleine Dubé.

When releasing its budget estimates for the 2013-14 fiscal year, the Department of Social Development announced major social assistance reform, in response to the recommendations prepared by the Advisory Committee on Social Assistance Reform under the provincial plan Overcoming Poverty Together.

Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation president Léo-Paul Pinet said that he was pleased that the government is taking the provincial poverty reduction plan seriously.

Overcoming Poverty Together is a unique plan,” Pinet said. “Getting the three main sectors, government, business, and non-profit, together around the same table, and involving people living or having lived in poverty, allows a holistic and realistic approach to poverty and inclusion. The provincial government is showing leadership with this major social assistance reform, and we sincerely hope that the other sectors will work with us to continue the efforts undertaken to reduce poverty.”

One of the corporation's objectives was to form an advisory committee on social assistance reform.  Its mandate was to offer advice and feedback to the Department of Social Development's internal steering committee on social assistance reform, leading to the development of the components of this redesign.

Roger Lessard, co-chair of the advisory committee, welcomed the provincial government's proposed changes.

“With the implementation of these measures, the provincial government is taking a very big step in the right direction,” Lessard said. “The members of our advisory committee have worked tirelessly to present fair and viable solutions to the government with the ultimate goal of helping people to escape poverty.”

The Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation is a provincial Crown corporation that co-ordinates and implements the Overcoming Poverty Together strategy. The corporation's board of directors has 22 members representing government, business, non-profit community organizations, and people who have experienced poverty.