Further explanation needed
“The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador regularly consults with a broad array of industry, employer, community, special interest, the general public and client groups to inform policy and budget priorities and to ensure programs and services are effective and relevant, and will continue to do so throughout the six-year period of the CA-NL Labour Market Agreement.”
The government’s words — not ours — found in the appendix of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Labour Market Agreement (2012-13 annual plan), dated Oct. 1, 2012.
The province’s recent announcement that it would eliminate Employment Assistance Services (EAS) offices came as quite a surprise.
In its press release, the Department of Advance Skills and Education was short on statistical facts, and long on verbal reasoning, including broad, nonspecific ramblings that appears to suggest that Career Work Centres are a better option.
We can’t say the decision by government is absolutely wrong. However, there are several things about it that don’t seem quite right. So we surfed the provincial and federal government webites in an effort to educate ourselves. Here is what we found. The Canada-Newfoundland Labour Market Agreement was announced in December, 2009. The headline on the provincial government press release, dated Dec. 7, 2009, announced “Labour Market Development Agreement will strengthen provincial workforce.”
Essentially, on Nov. 2 of that year, the province assumed control for the design and delivery of EIfunded employment benefits and support measures that were previously delivered by Ottawa.
In the House of Assembly on Dec. 7, minister Susan Sullivan noted the province would receive $133 million per year under this agreement.
Judging by the 2011-12 Performance Indicators Report of the LMA, a lot of people were getting help with training and re-training through the program, and finding employment because of it. Here are some of the Report highlights: • Between April, 2011, and March, 2012, 2026 people participated in and received supports under LMA-funded employment and training programs.
• Over half of them (1,956) were youth (aged 30 and under) or older workers (55 and over).
• Almost three quarters of LMA program participants did not graduate from high school or have a high school certificate as their highest level of education at the start of their program.
• Just over 45 percent of LMA program participants lived in rural areas of the province.
• Of the 463 people who completed a follow up survey after completing their program in the 2010/11 fiscal year, nearly half were employed or self-employed and another 18 percent were enrolled in an education/training program.
• And 83 percent of the respondents of that survey reported they were working full-time jobs.
You can find the report, and the LMA annual plans by visitin: http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/employment/partnerships/lma/index.shtml
Suffice to say, though, our quick read through the report raises questions about the decision to cancel a program that seemed to be providing a needed service and helping people (the majority of whom live in rural areas of Newfoundland and Labrador) obtain training and employment.
The LMA objective, as outlined in the Oct. 1, 2012, annual plan for 2012-13, is “Increasing participation and labour force attachment among unemployed and low-skilled employed individuals.”
Without the Employment Assistance Services in rural areas like Bonavista people in those communities will have to travel to larger towns — Clarenville in this case — to seek help through the province’s Career Work Centres.
That 180 km round trip is not exactly easy when you’re already disadvantaged financially due to lack of training and employment.
We’d love to be able to offer up a comparison of how the EAS centres stack up against the Career Work Centres in terms of cost and the employment success rate of clients.
If that information exists on the provincial government’s website, we can’t find it.
We await, with anticipation, the delivery of such information from the public relations officers and ministerial staff who may take umbrage with this editorial.
Until then, however, the questions than answers.
At this point, based on the LMA performance indicators report, the evidence in favour of keeping the EAS offices open appears to outweigh the evidence (or lack thereof ) for closing them.