No ex­cuses for de­lay in Job Cre­ation Part­ner­ship fund­ing

The Compass - - OPINION -

I am writ­ing to ad­dress this year’s sec­ond round of Job Cre­ation Part­ner­ships ( JCPs), which are now six weeks late. The first round, an­nounced June 1 and to­tal­ing over $6 mil­lion, were 10 weeks late.

Min­is­ter ( Joan) Burke has re­cently re­sponded to crit­i­cisms of the tar­di­ness of the JCP process, as­sert­ing that there are no for­mal dead­lines. This is an ut­ter false­hood. In fact, the ta­ble of dead­line dates and as­sess­ment pe­ri­ods can be found in the fol­low­ing gov­ern­ment doc­u­ment: http://www.aes.gov.nl.ca/lmda/pdf/JobCreationPart­ner­ships.pdf. I find it dis­turb­ing that towns and or­ga­ni­za­tions ap­ply­ing must live by the dead­line, but gov­ern­ment feels no such need to do like­wise.

Adding to the un­cer­tainty out there is all the talk of belt tight­en­ing this spring, fol­lowed by the premier’s re­cent ‘re­al­ity check’ that gov­ern­ment may have fore­cast oil prices so high that we may take on a $700 mil­lion deficit.

What needs to be high­lighted here is JCP fund­ing comes from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. Over $120 mil­lion is al­lo­cated each year as part of the Labour Mar­ket De­velop- ment Agree­ment (LMDA) whereby re­spon­si­bil­ity for ad­min­is­ter­ing labour mar­ket pro­gram­ming de­volved from the fed­eral to the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment in 2009. W hat I am hear­ing in my dis­trict is that pro­grams un­der the LMDA have never been so poorly stew­arded as they are now un­der the Dun­derdale Gov­ern­ment.

Mean­while, in ru­ral dis­tricts like mine (Bur­geo-La Poile), many or­ga­ni­za­tions are watch­ing the win­dow of the tourist sea­son close be­fore them. They re­lied in the past on these po­si­tions to make the most of the tourist sea­son. In the JCP an­nounce­ment for Bur­geo-La Poile on July 15, 2011, then Tourism Min­is­ter Terry French stated as fol­lows: “Given the im­por­tance of the tourism in­dus­try to this area, these projects will help to se­cure the long-term vi­a­bil­ity of the in­dus­try. Eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment is an im­por­tant part of strength­en­ing com­mu­ni­ties on the South­west Coast, and it also po­si­tions the area as an im­por­tant tourism des­ti­na­tion within New­found­land and Labrador.”

It ap­pears that this is not the case any­more in the post-elec­tion sum­mer.

Min­is­ter Burke has stated that she is not in­volved in this process, es­sen­tially blam­ing this de­ba­cle on the bu­reau­crats; how­ever, that ex­cuse does not cut it. She is the min­is­ter and head of that depart­ment and the buck stops with her. If she is not pre­pared to lead, then some­one else will have to. How­ever, a new fear has arisen - is it in­com­pe­tence that’s de­lay­ing the JCP’s, or is some­thing more sin­is­ter at work? Has the Dun­derdale gov­ern­ment, in its painful de­lays of this pro­gram, in its last minute ex­ten­sion of Em­ploy­ment As­sis­tance Agen­cies back in March, ac­tu­ally al­ready spent this money ear­marked for this pro­gram else­where? Or is it em­ploy­ing a pas­sive ag­gres­sive ap­proach to wean­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions from gov­ern­ment by mak­ing the process so ut­terly hope­less that groups no longer ap­ply in the fu­ture?

By all means, in­vest the LMDA money wisely to help peo­ple find mean­ing ful em­ploy­ment and help com­mu­ni­ties thrive. How­ever, don’t leave peo­ple in the lurch in the mean­time. An­drew Par­sons is theMHA for Bur

geo-La Poile

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