Federal-Provincial-Territorial Meeting of Ministers responsible for Social Services

NEWS RELEASE – Children , Families, and Persons with Disabilities

MONCTON, November 22, 2002 -- Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers1 responsible for Social Services met today and continued to make progress on their work in support of children, families, and persons with disabilities. The focus of their discussions was on the National Child Benefit, the Early Childhood Development initiative as well as benefits and services for persons with disabilities. The meeting of Ministers was co-chaired by the Honourable Jane Stewart, Minister of Human Resources Development Canada and the Honourable Joan MacAlpine, Minister of Community and Social Services for New Brunswick as the lead Provincial/Territorial Minister.

“Our success in building partnerships and moving these important programs and benefits forward will help families, children and persons with disabilities,” said Minister MacAlpine. “We are hopeful our work will promote social policy programs in support of the priorities of all governments and our commitments for children, families and persons with disabilities.”

“I’m very pleased with the progress we have made here today -- just two days after National Child Day, I think we have an opportunity to move forward on important initiatives for families, children and persons with disabilities in Canada, consistent with the initiatives in the federal Speech From the Throne” said Minister Stewart.

Social Services Ministers discussed progress on a commitment, made by Canada's First Ministers, to improve and expand early childhood development programs and services. The Government of Canada has committed $2.2 billion, over five years, to support provincial and territorial governments to build on and complement existing programs and services for young children and their families.

Governments are committed to report annually to Canadians on their investments and to report regularly on the well-being of young children using a common set of indicators. Several governments recently released their Early Childhood Development reports. Others are expected to release their reports in the coming weeks.

Building on their successful early childhood development partnership, Ministers agreed to work together to develop options to address the Government of Canada’s recent Speech From the Throne commitment to increase access to early learning opportunities and to quality child care.

Ministers recognized the contribution of the National Child Benefit to date in reducing child and family poverty and promoting attachment to the workforce. Ministers also agreed that there is more work to be done in providing income support and other benefits and services to help to continue to prevent and reduce child poverty and help parents find employment. Governments will release their next progress report on the National Child Benefit in Spring 2003.

Ministers appreciated the presentation from Prince Edward Island regarding their innovative program for disability supports. The program has shown benefits in increased employability for persons with disabilities and increased flexibility in dealing with an individual’s particular support needs.

Ministers approved the framework and priorities for a comprehensive labour market strategy for persons with disabilities. In this context, Ministers agreed to work aggressively to fast track a successor agreement to the current Employability Assistance for People with Disabilities Agreement.

1While Quebec supports the general principles of the National Child Benefit, the Early Childhood Development Initiative and the initiatives for persons with disabilities, it did not participate in developing these initiatives because it intends to preserve its sole responsibility on social matters. However Quebec receives its share of federal funding and the government of Quebec is making major investments toward programs and services for families, children and persons with disabilities. All references to viewpoints shared by the federal, provincial and territorial governments in this document do not include the viewpoints of the Government of Quebec.

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For more information:
           Wade Wilson
           Family and Community Services
           Tel: (506) 444-3684

           Andrew Graham
           Human Resources Development
           Tel: (819) 994-2482