September 24, 2003
(Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education)
(Industry, Trade and Rural Development)


Province opposed to new HRDC position on economic development

Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education Minister Anna Thistle and Industry, Trade and Rural Development Minister Judy Foote today responded to a unilateral decision taken by Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) that will cut funding for community-based development officer positions around the province, including those employed by the 20 Regional Economic Development Boards (REDBs). The positions are funded under the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Labour Market Development Agreement (LMDA).

The LMDA is a co-managed federal-provincial agreement that is designed to support emerging labour market development needs in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is managed federally by HRDC and provincially by the departments of Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education, Human Resources and Employment, and Industry, Trade and Rural Development. The agreement was signed in 1997 and has an annual budget of $130 million.

"Despite the LMDA being co-managed by HRDC and the province, this is a unilateral decision taken by HRDC in Ottawa," said Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education Minister Anna Thistle, lead minister for the LMDA.. "What is particularly frustrating for us, and our community-based partners, is that the programs delivered through the LMDA, which have supported these activities in the past, have not changed. What has changed is Ottawa�s interpretation of what is now eligible under those programs."

The province has expressed strong opposition to this decision, the unilateral approach by Ottawa, and has warned HRDC of the negative implications at the community level. Minister Thistle has written the federal minister of HRDC, Jane Stewart, voicing the province�s strong objection to the position, and to request a meeting to discuss the issue.

"The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has worked in partnership with HRDC for many years to support economic development in regions across our province," said Minister Foote. "HRDC�s position is one to which the province is strongly opposed. The province stands firmly with the regional economic development boards and the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Municipalities in their objection to HRDC�s decision. When the REDBs were established in the mid-1990s, both the federal and provincial governments, including HRDC, signed on to what we knew was a long-term commitment to a new process of regional economic development in Newfoundland and Labrador."

REDBs are a key partner for focusing federal and provincial resources on the development plans and priorities of communities that will lead to a strengthening of the local labour markets.. The federal government, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), and the province provide core funding to REDBs to maintain their operations. Over time, the LMDA has provided significant additional resources to REDBs, and their community-based partners, to advance specific initiatives as outlined in REDB strategic plans. These plans have been endorsed by both the federal and provincial governments, including HRDC.

Media contact:

Kathy Dicks-Peyton, Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education, (709) 729-6573
Tansy Mundon, Industry, Trade and Rural Development, (709) 729-4570

2003 09 24                                       5:45 p.m.

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