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May 4, 1999
(Executive Council)

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

Today I am pleased to announce that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is now ready to accept proposals for funding of demonstration projects that support the province's Strategic Social Plan. Members of the House will recall when government announced the release of the Strategic Social Plan, it reserved a $1.2 million fund for this purpose.

This $1.2 million fund has been created to implement projects that are consistent with the plan's directions, including an emphasis on coordinated approaches to social and economic development, prevention early intervention programs, and community capacity building. Preference will be given to projects that demonstrate innovative and effective ways of addressing social issues, using partnership approaches among community-based groups. Information gathered from these projects will be used to help improve social programs and services in the province.

Projects can be proposed at a community, regional or provincial level. Funding will be provided up to March 31, 2000, with maximum funding per project not normally exceeding $25,000. Consideration will be given to a higher award, if the project is province-wide in scope.

The Strategic Social Plan is an important initiative that affirms the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador's commitment to strengthening our social policies, programs and services. Today's announcement is the latest initiative in supporting the plan and government's desire to work cooperatively with community groups in achieving a prosperous future for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Along with today's announcement I would also like to take the opportunity to update Members of the House on other implementation initiatives associated with the plan. During the past eight months since the plan was released, government has made considerable progress in two of the key stages of the Strategic Social Plan - regional implementation and the social audit.

Regional implementation has begun with the Central Region. On April 23 there was a very successful planning session held in Gander, attended by approximately 100 delegates from all parts of the region. The purpose of the session was to begin, in this region, the collaborative process between government and the nine regional boards of Health Institutions, Health and Community Services, Education, and Economic Development. This early process will lay the foundation for a coordinated regional approach to social and economic development. In addition, the session provided an opportunity for participants to share information, develop ideas for community partnerships and begin work on a regional vision and options for coordination. The session brought together board members and executives of the regional board, members of the Premier's Advisory Council, as well as representatives from both the provincial and federal governments. Over the next few weeks the geographical boundaries for the other regions of the province will be established so that implementation can proceed for these areas.

The second key area of progress is the Social Audit. The entire process of the Strategic Social Plan is supported by the development of a public progress report, our Social Audit. This audit is to be completed at five year intervals and will be a record of achievements and specific outcomes identified in the plan. Work on the development of indicators to measure progress is being done in conjunction with the Newfoundland Statistics Agency. Agency officials' skills and knowledge have advanced the work of the Social Audit beyond our expectations.

In the near future we propose to make available on a pilot basis, initially in the Central Region, website access to an information system of key social and economic indicators. Currently, this information system contains some 7,500 tables with information from a variety of sources including Statistics Canada and provincial sources. This will provide information on economic and social trends at both the provincial, regional and community level. No other jurisdiction has been able to do what we are now proposing. As resources become available, this information system will be shared with the regional board partners involved in implementing the Strategic Social Plan and other partner organizations at the community level. It will provide regions and communities with an important planning tool to support evidence based decision-making, another goal of the plan. It will also form an essential part of the information-base required to build the social audit. Work continues on the development of other complementary approaches, in addition to statistical data, to assess our progress for purposes of the Social Audit. The Premier's Council on Social Development will be instrumental in advising on the framework for the Social Audit.

Last week's session in the Central Region and today's announcement of support for demonstration projects indicates the Strategic Social Plan strongly supports the development of new and collaborative approaches in addressing the needs and concerns of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. I look forward to continually updating everyone on the progress of the Strategic Social Plan in the future.

1999 05 04                           3:45 p.m.

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