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March 22, 2000
(Human Resources and Employment)

Investing in people remains top priority

Investing in people to help build strong, vibrant communities remains a priority of the Department of Human Resources and Employment (HRE). Today, Julie Bettney, Minister of Human Resources and Employment, announced a number of initiatives that focus on economic and social development and reflect the vision of the Strategic Social Plan.

"We recognize that employment is the link between social and economic development," said Minister Bettney. "This is a central theme of the Strategic Social Plan and a recurring message in the recent Jobs and Growth consultations."

Minister Bettney said the departmentís budget announcements reflect HREís mandate to offer income support and employment programs that support and assist people in preparing for, attaining and maintaining employment while ensuring supports for those who are unable to work.

"These latest initiatives are a continuation of programs and services that have had a positive impact on individuals and their communities," said Minister Bettney. "The department is building on programs that have a proven track record."

Human Resources and Employmentís programs and services reflect the departmentís commitment to encourage self-reliance in clients and support people in finding and maintaining jobs. The department is concentrating on three broad categories:

Helping in the transition to employment

During the 2000/2001 fiscal year the department will provide an additional $1 million to expand NewfoundJOBS. This successful program is consistent with the goals of the Strategic Social Plan, and reflects the themes found in the Jobs and Growth consultations. NewfoundJOBS helps income support clients enter or re-enter the labour force and find long-term jobs. This funding is in addition to the $2 million allotted when the program was introduced last year. In 1999 approximately 1,000 income support clients received assistance through NewfoundJobs.

The department will also continue its valuable partnership with the Single Parent Association of Newfoundland (SPAN) by providing $500,000 for the Single Parent Employment Support Program (SESP). The program assisted 140 single parents in 1999/2000 prepare for and/or enter the labour market. It is expected to help approximately another 150 single parents in 2000/2001.

"These initiatives have all been well received and will help promote a diverse labour market," said Minister Bettney.

Post secondary students and youth

Feedback from the recent Jobs and Growth consultations highlighted the crucial role that youth will play in creating future economic success for the province. HRE also recognizes that young people are indeed an important resource and face a number of challenges.

For 2000/2001, the department will provide $2 million and create about 2,000 post-secondary student jobs through the Student Work and Service Program (SWASP). This program has assisted over 14,000 students since 1994 and has won a national award for innovation. The department will also provide $5.5 million for programs that assist youth in finding their first job, gaining work experience and finding cooperative work placements.

People living with a disability

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).

The department will provide an additional $500,000 to Employment Support Services for Persons with Disabilities, a program that helps persons with disabilities enter the workforce. In addition, $500,000, cost-shared with the Government of Canada, will be provided through the Opening Doors Program. Opening Doors gives individuals with a disability the opportunity for employment and work experience in the public service.

"By building on the strong foundation we have created, the department will continue to provide and expand opportunities for people in Newfoundland and Labrador," said Minister Bettney. "Most of all, as outlined in the Government of Newfoundland and Labradorís Strategic Social Plan, these stable initiatives strengthen the link between social and economic development. This type of development is the key to a bright and productive future for the province."

Media contact: Marcia Porter, Communications, (709) 729-4062.

2000 03 22 

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