SAINT JOHN (GNB) – The provincial government is partnering with Living SJ on three innovative new initiatives aimed at ending generational poverty. Premier Brian Gallant made the announcement today during the Business Community Anti-Poverty Initiative 20th Anniversary Luncheon in Saint John.

“Your government's multi-year economic growth plan, 10-year education plans and Family Plan are focused on moving all New Brunswickers forward together,” said Gallant. “Lifting people out of poverty provides a stronger workforce for our businesses to be able to compete and helps strengthen our communities.”

In May of 2017, the government announced an investment of $10 million over five years to support innovation projects and initiatives that strive towards ending generational poverty in Saint John. This fund is in addition to existing government investments in community programs aimed at ending generational poverty in Saint John.

The investment will be managed by Living SJ on behalf of the community. The organization’s network includes senior leaders in Greater Saint John from all three levels of government, as well as representatives of business groups, non-profits and low-income neighbourhoods.

Saint John will serve as a testing site for these new innovative approaches. The evidenced-based initiatives supported by this funding will have targets and will be evaluated to determine their impact, return on investment and scalability.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between the government and Living SJ last month when the first projects of the Social Innovation Fund were announced. Those projects include the Saint John Land Bank, Learn & Go, and the Parent-Child Assistance Program.

The new initiatives announced today are:

  • Transitioning to Work: The Saint John Learning Exchange provides adult education and employment programs for more than 350 participants each year by using a holistic, continuum of service approach that includes responsive programming driven by individual’s education and employment goals. With a budget of $1.4 million over five years, this project aims to develop and implement an incentive-based, sustainable model that demonstrates both the service and funding components necessary to successfully assist people in their education, training and employment pathways out of poverty.
  • Incentives for Bridge to a Brighter Future: The goal of this project is to pilot the EMPath program (developed in Boston) in Saint John in order to emulate past success and, specifically, to fund the financial incentives for participants. With a budget of $25,000 for one year, the objective is to create a plan for a family that multiple organizations, including government departments, can help them achieve. This project is led by First Steps Housing.
  • Investing in Differential Funding: Elementary schools with the highest concentrations of poverty will be provided additional resources to help students from kindergarten to Grade 2 overcome learning barriers, achieve early literacy skills and gain essential educational foundations. This three-year demonstration project aims to help more children succeed in school, achieve Living SJ’s education targets and inform education practice and public policy. The budget for this project is $1.5 million over three years.
  • Speech Language Pathologist for Priority Schools: To complement the Investing in Differential Funding initiative, the addition of a dedicated speech language pathologist to serve priority schools will allow for the development of instrumental oral language development strategies. Having a speech language pathologist working as a coach with teachers and children is intended to help develop oral language skills and support children as they learn to read. The budget for this project is $80,000 for one year.
  • Central Peninsula School Task Force: The district education council has recommended that a new elementary school be built on the central peninsula in Saint John. The task force will oversee a process to maximize the impact of the proposed new school and the development of an enhanced educational facilities model for the priority neighbourhoods, with the potential for this model to be adapted for construction and renovation projects throughout the province. The initiative will include a needs assessment, an educational facility design and programming innovative practices guide, site selection analysis, building footprint, facade concept, and an innovative school business case. The budget is $85,000 for one year.