Danielle Seaward is the executive director of the Single Parent Association of Newfoundland and Labrador. (Ted Dillon/CBC)
A group helping single parents in Newfoundland and Labrador says the provincial government's poverty reduction plan is off to a good start, as demand for their services skyrockets and new faces come through the door.
Danielle Seaward, executive director of the Single Parent Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SPANL), welcomes the plan. She believes the plan's proposed 300 per cent increase to child benefit payments will help single parents and families of all sizes.
"What we're seeing is just the change in poverty, not just being what it was even as early as 12 months ago. It's evolving, and more people are coming into that poverty line than ever before," Seaward told CBC News on Friday.
"We are seeing people come into our organization that have never had to ask for help before at an alarming rate. Our food bank, we see the immediate impact. We have individuals that come in and book a food hamper appointment that six months ago were completely self-sufficient and on their feet."
Seaward said she was also excited to see announcements like expansions to the school lunch program, as items for lunches are always the top demand at their food bank.
The association fed 900 children per month last year, she said, and that number is expected to be higher this year. Weekly food bank appointments are full, she added, with a growing wait list.
But Seaward said demand is also increasing dramatically for support over the holidays. Over 600 families have applied for SPANL's Christmas Magic program, which ensures children have gifts for Christmas. With so many people feeling the squeeze of the cost of living, she says donations are down.
SPANL is collecting toys ahead of the holiday season, and Seaward says the number of families asking for help with gifts this Christmas has risen dramatically. (Ted Dillon/CBC)
"To hear that donations may be down by 40 per cent as a charitable industry this year is concerning when our demand is doubling. So we have a lot of work to do."
While she said the plan has made positive steps forward, she'd also like to see more attention to employment and skills training to help people come out of poverty and become self-sufficient.