Human Resources Labour and Employment
April 24, 2008

The following statement was issued by the Honourable Shawn Skinner, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment. It was also read in the House of Assembly:

Support Measures for Persons with Disabilities

I rise today to inform my honourable colleagues of this government�s commitment to advance the interests of persons with disabilities and to support measures to increase their opportunity to participate in the labour market.

I was honoured to accept a new role as Minister Responsible for Persons with Disabilities. As outlined in the recent Speech from the Throne, our government is committed to the establishment of a new Division of Disabilities. Individuals living with a disability, and advocates for the disabled, believe this is long overdue. I look forward to leading it as I firmly see it to be a critically important policy and program area for our government.

This year, staff will be hired to manage the new division. As well, in consultation with the disabilities community a comprehensive study will be conducted to better understand the complex barriers that persons with disabilities too often encounter in accessing public services, pursuing an education and securing meaningful employment. Government will work in partnership with persons with disabilities, advocates and service delivery agencies as we move forward with these community consultations. This work will serve to identify new directions, and complement existing programs and services.

As one example, last year we provided increased supports to foster greater labour market participation for persons with disabilities. Approximately $1 million was allocated through the Poverty Reduction Strategy to help persons with disabilities get better connected to work. To this end, government is supporting the Independent Living Resource Centre in the delivery of a new internship program. In partnership with the supported employment corporations throughout the province, individuals with an intellectual disability are being assisted as they make the transition from school to employment. Government is supporting accommodation in the workplace through the deployment of assistive devices and adaptation. There is also a targeted wage subsidy program to encourage private sector employers to hire post-secondary graduates with a disability.

This government believes in the promotion of inclusion and the establishment of practices that enable everyone to participate in all that society has to offer. Persons with disabilities can make a significant contribution to the collective wealth and prosperity of our province. This government will continue to support and advance policies and programs which bring people in, encourage greater self-reliance and promote equality of opportunity. The new Division of Disabilities is a firm step in the right direction.

2008 04 24                                                   2:00 p.m.

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