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December 1, 1998
(Human Resources and Employment)

The following statement was issued today by Julie Bettney, Minister of Human Resources and Employment. It was also read in the House of Assembly:

Strategic Social Plan

I rise before the House today to provide an up-date on implementation activities associated with "People, Partners and Prosperity" the Strategic Social Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador. The Strategic Social Plan embodies government's steadfast commitment to the social and economic well-being of people in this province. We believe that the Strategic Social Plan is a unique approach to addressing the challenges facing our province, one that recognizes the importance of engaging people as active participants in building effective solutions.

The supportive response of regional and community stakeholders to the release of the Strategic Social Plan has been very encouraging, not only because it gives credence to the directions in the plan, but also because the long term thrust of the plan seems well understood. The plan is a framework for achieving the kinds of outcomes for people and communities that will be essential to the long term growth and prosperity of this province. Achieving outcomes related to the health, education, economic and social well-being of our people, and to community capacity requires a broad based long term strategy involving government and the public.

Government is committed to doing its part. We have undertaken significant new social initiatives including new legislation in the areas of Child, Youth and Family Services and Child Care Services, and a number of initiatives under the National Child Benefit Provincial Reinvestment Program such as additional funding to support child care subsidies and infant child care services, additional family resource programs, and initiatives relating to youth services. These initiatives signal our commitment to move in directions that support prevention and early intervention approaches that yield long term results.

During the fall, activities associated with the Strategic Social Plan have focused on information-sharing in preparation for implementation. Some of these activities have included:

  • Information sessions for the members of the regional boards. Eight sessions have been held across the province and three more are scheduled to be completed by the end of this week. Sessions for health boards are now complete, while briefings with school boards will be finished shortly. The provincial caucus of the regional economic development boards has also been briefed.

  • Information sessions have been held with community agencies in Clarenville, Corner Brook, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Stephenville and Gander, with more planned in the next few months.

  • Information sessions have also been held for senior government managers to ensure that our managers are aware of the priority that government attaches to the implementation of the Strategic Social Plan.

As I have noted, these sessions have given government an opportunity to discuss the directions of the plan with a variety of people across the province. On the basis of those discussions, I believe, that there exists a genuine desire on the part of all parties to seek cooperative approaches to begin to address this province's challenges through the Strategic Social Plan. Implementation at the regional level will commence in early winter 1999 using a phased-in approach. This will enable the process of other regions to be guided by the experiences of the initial region.

On another level, an initial meeting of the Premier's Council on Social Development was held on October 26 with another to follow shortly. The council provides government with a unique opportunity to seek a wide range of views on issues that impact on the policy and program decisions of government. Work has commenced on the development of indicators for the social audit, under the advice of the Premier's Council. These indicators will be an important mechanism for providing regions and communities with planning information on an on-going basis. The social audit will be conducted after five years and will inform the public on progress achieved.

I wish to conclude by noting that this province's announcement of a Strategic Social Plan has been applauded at the national level as a bold initiative that leads the way in the area of progressive social policy. The commitment of a government to a broad based social plan is unique and the emphasis on integrating social and economic development at a policy and program level is supported by the best available research. The formal commitment to a government-region-community partnership around social and economic development is seen as innovative. The social audit will be the first time that such an initiative has been undertaken by any jurisdiction in the country. I believe that the Strategic Social Plan, carefully managed, has the potential to achieve long term positive outcomes for this province and demonstrate new ways for effectively addressing social change.

1998 12 01 2:10 p.m.

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