The number of low-income people in Newfoundland and Labrador has almost been cut in half in the last six years, according to a provincial government report released Monday.

Statistics Canada's most recent numbers, from 2008, set the low-income cut-off at $15,300 a year after taxes for an individual living in a medium-sized community, and $29,000 after taxes for a family of four.

A government news release says Newfoundland and Labrador moved from being a province with one of the highest levels of poverty in Canada to the province with the third-lowest level.

"Through the progress report, it is evident that Newfoundland and Labrador is well along in its journey toward being the province with the lowest poverty rates in Canada by 2014," said Susan Sullivan, minister of human resources, labour and employment.

Anti-poverty groups said the lower poverty rates reflect more than just the impact of more money from increasing oil revenues.

"There's a sense of hope and belief that the community and government are committed to a common vision," said Gail Thornhill of the Stella Burry Foundation in St. John's.

Numbers from Statistics Canada's low-income cut-off barometer show Newfoundland and Labrador has significantly reduced the incidence, depth and persistence of poverty since 2003, the province said.

The news release also said:

  • The incidence of low income has decreased from 12.2 per cent in 2003 (63,000 people) to 6.5 per cent in 2007 (33,000 people).
  • The depth of poverty, or the average low-income gap (the average amount low-income people fall below the cut-off), decreased from $5,500 in 2003 to $4,900 in 2007, and is now the lowest in the country.
  • Over 4,000 clients on income support started employment between 2006 and 2008.