News Release: Department continues to move forward in redesign initiatives
March 22, 2001
(Human Resources and Employment)
Improving service to clients and reducing barriers to employment remain key themes for the Department of Human Resources and Employment this year as it continues the redesign of its programs and services.
One of the critical pieces of this work is the development of a new computerized pay system that will enhance service delivery and ensure that clients receive fast, efficient and timely responses to their income support enquiries. The new system replaces one that dates back to the mid-1970s and is the backbone of the income support program. Producing 75,000 cheques monthly, the demands on the current system have outstripped its technical capacity. Staff are not able to make immediate changes to client information, and the resulting time lags cause unnecessary delays in service.
"This new initiative is the latest in the department’s effort to create a service delivery system that meets the income support needs of our clients, with a minimum of administrative hassle," said Gerald Smith, Minister of Human Resources and Employment. "Our staff will be able to focus on the employment and career counselling services we provide to our clients."
The department will invest $1.8 million in the development of the new computerized pay system in the 2001-2002 fiscal year.
"Unless we proceed with the new system now, the department will be limited in its ability to implement the other changes that we are planning to make at the service level for clients, such as a telephone application process," said the minister.
This new system is one of the latest initiatives implemented by the department in recent years to redesign its programs and services. Since 1997 the department has made considerable progress in a number of areas including helping low income families with the cost of raising their children through the Newfoundland and Labrador Child Benefit, providing extended drug card coverage to income support clients who are making the transition to employment, and helping over 2,400 clients in the past year look for and maintain employment through NewfoundJOBS.
"These progressive initiatives together with our growing economy have been instrumental in reducing our social assistance caseload to less than 29,000 in December 2000, the lowest level since October 1992," said Minister Smith.
The department will continue to support clients making the transition to the labour market through programs delivered in partnership with community agencies. These programs focus on the link between economic and social development, a major theme of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Strategic Social Plan.
In 2001-2002 the department will continue to allocate $3 million for NewfoundJOBS to assist income support clients enter or re-enter the labour force, and find long term, sustainable jobs. Last year, approximately 2,400 income support clients received a range of supports through NewfoundJOBS.
The Single Parent Employment Support Program (SESP) will provide $500,000 to assist single parents find meaningful employment and become financially independent. Since 1998, the department has assisted 239 single parents through this program.
Youth unemployment remains a priority of the department with $1.2 million being provided this year for the award winning Linkages Program that combines classroom instruction with employment experience. The department will work in partnership with the newly formed Department of Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education on a number of programs that have specific relevance for youth.
Under the Employability Assistance for People with Disabilities (EAPD) Agreement, people living with a disability will continue to have access to supports and services that address particular barriers to employment. The department will provide $6.6 million, cost-shared with the Government of Canada, through the Employment Assistance Program for Persons with Disabilities to help people with disabilities enter the labour market.
"The department will respond to the needs of clients who face particular barriers to employment," said Minister Smith. "When all people have equal opportunities to work, and take part in community life, we all benefit. This not only reflects the vision of the Strategic Social Plan but is also an important theme of the Report on Jobs and Growth."