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March 22, 1999
(Human Resources and Employment)

Minister announces income support and employment initiatives

The Strategic Social Plan has provided the foundation for a number of initiatives that focus on partnership, encouraging self reliance, and linking social and economic development. Julie Bettney, Minister of Human Resources and Employment, announced today a number of income support and labour market initiatives which will further the Department of Human Resources and Employment's goals to support and assist people to prepare for, attain and maintain employment while ensuring supports for those who are unable to work.


During the 1999/2000 fiscal year, the department will implement a new $2 million employment program, NewfoundJobs, to assist over 500 income support recipients enter or re-enter the labour market and find long term, sustainable jobs. The department will also continue its partnership with the Single Parent Association of Newfoundland (SPAN) by providing $500,000 for the Single Parent Employment Support Program, which is expected to assist an additional 120 single parents in 1999/2000. Additional measures include allowing individuals and families to keep more of their earnings, allowing income support recipients to keep the first $500 of their income tax refunds and extending drug card coverage from three to six months for clients who leave income support for employment purposes.

"These initiatives are all part of the department's approach to offer simpler, more equitable and more accessible programs and services for clients as they make the transition to employment," said Minister Bettney. "As our clients prepare for and enter the labour market, these initiatives will make that transition easier by providing encouragement and real support to clients as they become more self reliant."


The department also recognizes the challenges faced by post-secondary students and youth. It will therefore provide $2 million to create approximately 2,000 post-secondary student jobs through the Student Work and Service Program (SWASP). This program has assisted over 12,000 students since 1994 and has won a national award for innovation. Approximately 500 of these jobs will be created through partnership arrangements with Memorial University and the College of the North Atlantic. An additional $5.5 million will be provided to assist youth find their important first job and gain work experience. It will also assist post-secondary students find cooperative work placements.


To assist people living with a disability, the department will continue to work with other departments and community stakeholders under the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Employability Assistance for People with Disabilities Agreement (EAPD) to develop programs and services which result in employment for persons with disabilities. Last year under the EAPD, through the Supported Employment Program, 18 volunteer boards provided over 330 sustainable jobs for individuals with developmental disabilities, totalling over 8,000 person weeks of work. EAPD also provides employment and training opportunities for approximately 500 other individuals living with a disability. The EAPD Agreement is valued at $8.2 million annually and is cost-shared 50:50 with the Government of Canada.

The department will also provide $500,000, cost-shared with the Government of Canada, to the Opening Doors Program. This program provides individuals with a disability the opportunity to find employment and gain work experience in the public service.

"We have learned and proven that partnerships at all levels, including those with our clients, work," said Minister Bettney. "We will continue to work in partnership to identify and find solutions that meet our clients' needs in today's ever changing environment."

Media contact: Paul Power, Communications, (709) 729-6156.


  • NewfoundJOBS is about supporting social assistance clients who are interested in and ready for work with funding support to meet their employment objectives. NewfoundJOBS will provide intensive one-on-one employment and career counselling thus allowing people to identify and address the current barriers to employment they are facing. At least 35 per cent of people on the current social assistance caseload are either underemployed or looking for work.

  • NewfoundJOBS will use social assistance funding in a new way - to support people going to work.


  • NewfoundJOBS is designed to provide specialized employment and career counselling, in addition to financial support, to help people implement their employment plans.

  • Once clients have completed their employment plans with the support of career development specialists, a flexible envelope of money will be allocated on an individual basis. This can be used to fund the various "steps to employment" outlined in their plans, such as short-term training, job vouchers, wage subsidies, etc. These supports will enable clients to make informed career choices based on practical experience.

  • NewfoundJOBS is not just about getting people ready for work, in fact that is not enough. The program is also about creating a new and more effective way of government agencies, the business sector and the community working together to achieve real outcomes - work. NewfoundJOBS advances the province's Strategic Social Plan unveiled in August 1998.

  • Through NewfoundJOBS HRE will help lead the way in setting up effective partnerships with groups such as community economic development agencies to identify and facilitate employment creation.


  • NewfoundJOBS is in addition to HRE's current employment and career services. Programs will continue to be available to other underemployed and unemployed individuals.


  • NewfoundJOBS will not require any new money.

  • NewfoundJOBS is about reinvesting social assistance funds into work. HRE will reprofile $2 million from within its existing budget to fund the program, with $1 million coming directly from the social assistance budget.

  • Once program details have been finalized information will be available to clients on how to access the program.

Single Parent Employment Support Program Pilot

  • The pilot program is an active measures partnership between HRE and the Single Parent Association of Newfoundland (SPAN). The program is designed to help single parents who receive income support find and maintain full time employment and become financially independent.

  • Unlike a wage subsidy that is directed to the employer, the income supplement is paid directly to the individual.

  • Participants will be better off as a result of working, and will maintain their child care allowance and drug card during the pilot.

  • Preliminary results from the project are very encouraging. Of the 50 single parents completing the program between August 1998 and February 1999, 25 are working full-time and another six were seasonally employed during Christmas. Some clients have received raises, promotions and increased hours of work. Three graduates of the program are completely off income support.

  • On March 1, 1999, another 20 single parents entered the program.

  • During the next 12 months of the program, another 120 single parents will receive training and support. A budget of $500,000 has been approved for the program in 1999-2000.

  • This pilot is not just about finding employment, but maintaining employment. The project is being evaluated over time to see if it achieves this goal.

Improved Earnings Exemptions

Effective June 1999 there will be:

  • Two rates for singles ($75 and $95 for persons with disabilities)

  • Two rates for couples and families ($150 and $190 for persons with disabilities)

The current earnings exemption policy includes:

  • Three different exemptions for singles ($40, $55 and $95)

  • Three different exemptions for couples ($100, $115 and $190)

  • Two different exemptions for families ($150 and $190)

  • Our current policy is confusing for clients and staff and difficult to administer.

  • Last year the department introduced changes allowing families to retain the first $150 of their earned income. This change provided a greater incentive for clients to re-join the labour market.

  • The new increased exemption levels will be extended to all clients who have earnings from employment.

  • The higher existing exemption levels for persons living with a disability will be retained because of their additional work-related costs.

  • The estimated value of this initiative is $150,000.

Extended Drug Card Coverage

  • Extended Drug Card Coverage is an initiative under the NCB Re-investment Program, which came into effect October 1, 1998. This initiative extends health care coverage to families who leave social assistance due to employment. These families retain the same drug card coverage as a recipient of social assistance would receive. Initially this program provided unlimited drug care coverage for a three month period after families were no longer eligible for social assistance. A preliminary analysis of usage of this program has indicated we can extend the coverage from three to six months.

Why provide this type of benefit?

  • In many cases, families who move from social assistance to independence are placed in financial hardship during the transition to work phase when they have to purchase prescription drugs. The rationale for this initiative is to ensure, where possible, as families initially move from dependence on social assistance to independence due to employment, that they are not faced with a financial loss as a result of prescription drug costs.

How many families use this service?

  • Approximately 1,300 families (2,000 children) will have access to Extended Drug Card Coverage because they have left social assistance due to new employment or increased employment.

  • This active measure began in October 1998, and provided transitional support to families who left social assistance due to employment.

  • This initiative is funded through the National Child Benefit Re-investment Fund.

  • Originally a pilot program to provide prescription drug coverage for three months for these families, the Extended Drug Card Coverage has now been extended to provide the same coverage for six months.

Board and Lodging Income

  • Effective June 1, 1999 clients who take in a family member as a boarder will no longer see a reduction in their social assistance. Income received from non-family boarders will be considered under the earned income policy which will result in more disposable income for clients.

  • Currently 730 clients who have boarders see a reduction of approximately $50 in their social assistance benefits. In the majority of cases the boarder is a family member.

  • The department's current policy discourages families from providing in-home care for an aging parent. Clients who provide board for family members such as a son, daughter or grandparent have their social assistance benefits reduced based on an additional source of income. However, boarder income is often the only income that many clients are able to acquire, particularly women.

  • The estimated value of this initiative is $2 million over five years.

$7.5 million for Student/Youth Employment Programs serving
over 3,500 post-secondary students and youth


  • $2 million in funding to provide wage subsidies and tuition vouchers to help post-secondary students across the province finance their education and help them gain valuable work experience.

  • Approximately 2,000 jobs will be funded this year, about 500 of these will be created through a partnership arrangement with Memorial University and the College of the North Atlantic.

  • This program has assisted over 12,000 students since 1994 and has won a national award for innovation.


  • $5.5 million for a variety of programs to assist students and youth (30 and under) gain experience and income to finance their education.

  • Programs offer counselling, co-operative work placements and assist youth find their important first job.

  • Students/youth have work placements with education institutions, small businesses as well as in areas of environmental enhancement and conservation.

  • Examples of current programs to be funded include the Linkages Youth Employment Program, Graduate Program, Conservation Corps, MUN Co-operative Education Placements.

$500,000 for employment opportunities in the public service
for people with disabilities

  • $500,000 in provincial funding to support the Opening Doors Program.

  • Since 1990, Opening Doors has supported the creation of over 50 permanent jobs for people with disabilities within the public service.

  • The province will cost-share this $1 million initiative on a 50:50 basis with the federal government through Human Resources Development Canada over two fiscal years.

  • The funding will be used to help approximately 20 people with disabilities obtain employment in 1999-2000.

1999 03 22

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