More crit­i­cism of em­ploy­ment as­sis­tance cuts

The Compass - - OPINION -

March 1, 2013 was an­other dark day for ru­ral New­found­land and Labrador. It was the day that the Honourable Joan Shea, Min­is­ter of Ad­vanced Ed­u­ca­tion and Skills, and this Tory government put out a press re­lease that af­fects all ru­ral ar­eas of this province.

As of June 1, Em­ploy­ment As­sis­tance Ser­vices for EI-el­i­gi­ble clients, cur­rently run by most third party ser­vices providers, will be de­liv­ered through the De­part­ment of Ad­vanced Ed­u­ca­tion and Skills.

Min­is­ter Shea did not have the courtesy to no­tify us first so that we could break the bad news to our em­ploy­ees. In fact, we found it out from our em­ploy­ees first.

I am speak­ing as a board mem­ber and former chair­per­son of the Green Bay South Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre, a vol­un­teer or­ga­ni­za­tion that is a third party provider for the Em­ploy­ment As­sis­tance Ser­vices for Green Bay South with an of­fice in Tri­ton, which pro­vides ser­vices to Brighton, Tri­ton, Pil­ley’s Is­land, Roberts Arm, Port An­son, Miles Cove and Beau­mont-Lushes Bight.

E.A.S. pro­vides as­sis­tance and in­for­ma­tion re­sources for : ca­reer devel­op­ment and em­ploy­ment coun­selling, labour mar­ket in­for­ma­tion, re­sume and cover let­ter, job search, in­ter­view prepa­ra­tion, train­ing pro­grams and post-sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tions, em­ploy­ment coun­selling for adults and youth, re­fer­ral to out­side agen­cies for ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties and other re­lated ser­vices.

Our of­fice also aided clients who needed help with EI ap­pli­ca­tions.

On March 1, we were no­ti­fied that our con­tract would ex­pire on June 30, 2013 be­cause our ser­vices were no longer needed. There are 52 of­fices scat­tered around our province do­ing the same work as the Green Bay South Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre, plus ap­prox­i­mately 40 more deal­ing specif­i­cally with youth, women and dis­abled peo­ple.

Up to this time I can as­sume that all th­ese of­fices have re­ceived the same no­tices.

Th­ese of­fices were con­tracted out to vol­un­teer or­ga­ni­za­tions in my opin­ion, be­cause they were cheaper to run, no unions in­volved and the man­agers were vol­un­teers who did not get paid but did it as a com­mu­nity ser­vice.

Th­ese pro­grams were run by the fed­eral government un­til Novem­ber 2009, when Ot­tawa passed it over to the pro­vin­cial government to run and run it they did, right into the ground.

Min­is­ter Joan Shea said: “We have heard feed­back from clients, staff and the pub­lic, which in­di­cate there are a num­ber of on­go­ing chal­lenges with em­ploy­ment pro­grams.”

This is the first that I have heard of this and I don’t know any­one who was con­sulted. All we have ever heard from our clients is praise for the ser­vices that we pro­vide and the pro­fes­sion­al­ism of our work­ers.

Joan Shea goes on to say: “We need to avoid du­pli­ca­tion and in­con­sis­ten­cies and stream­line our process to ad­dress th­ese con­cerns and pro­vide bet­ter, less com­pli­cated ser­vice de­liv­ery to help clients find em­ploy­ment.”

This is a com­plete fab­ri­ca­tion of the truth. The ma­jor­ity of th­ese Em­ploy­ment As­sis­tance Ser­vices Of­fices are far away from any Ad­vanced Ed­u­ca­tion and Skills Of­fices and this will force our clients to travel long dis­tance to get the help they need and will have to deal with com­plete strangers and many of our clients will fall through the cracks and the peo­ple who some­times need that lit­tle bit of en­cour­age­ment will not get it.

I am not against government try­ing to con­sol­i­date and make ser­vices bet­ter and cheaper and I am not so much con­cerned about the jobs, as I am about the ser­vices we will lose in ru­ral ar­eas of the province, and the dis­tances and cost to the in­di­vid­u­als to travel to get th­ese ser­vices.

This government is gone way over bud­get be­cause of bad spend­ing prac­tices and are mak­ing the peo­ple pay for their mis­takes, es­pe­cially those who live in ru­ral New­found­land and Labrador, where jobs are scarce and peo­ple need help in find­ing em­ploy­ment or train­ing in or­der to bet­ter them­selves,

Yes, Tory times are hard times, es­pe­cially if you live out­side the over­pass. Capt. Wil­fred Bartlett (re­tired) writes

from Green Bay South

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