Québec, May 14, 1999 -- Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers responsible for Social Services met today in Quebec City to provide further direction on important initiatives for children as well as persons with disabilities. The Ministers' meeting was co-chaired by the Honourable Pierre S. Pettigrew, Minister of Human Resources Development Canada and the Honourable Dr. Lyle Oberg, Minister of Alberta Family and Social Services, lead Provincial/Territorial Minister.
Last fall Ministers responsible for Social Services released "In Unison: A Canadian Approach to Disability Issues", a policy framework to guide future government action in the area of disabilities. At today's meeting, they reviewed progress on the development of an accountability framework and the creation of Disability Links, a web page that will allow people to access information on disability-related programs and services. Ministers endorsed holding further consultations on these issues with stakeholders this fall to seek their advice and views.
"I am very pleased that all governments remain committed to making progress on disability issues. By building on our collaborative efforts, we can make a real difference in the lives of persons with disabilities", said Minister Pettigrew.
Ministers responsible for Social Services acknowledged the importance of the National Children's Agenda (NCA) that was launched last week by the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministerial Council on Social Policy Renewal, and agreed to work together on this important national initiative. Ministers agreed that the Social Services sector will have a key role to play in moving the Agenda forward, and agreed to undertake joint work in the areas of early childhood and adolescent development.
The measurement of poverty was also discussed at the meeting. There are several different measures of low income that are used in Canada, and in recent years there has been considerable debate about how to measure poverty. Ministers reviewed progress on the development of the Market Basket Measure (MBM), a new measure of low income. The MBM is still under development, but could be used in combination with other existing measures as a way of understanding poverty issues better.
Ministers agreed that the Social Services sector was in a good position to demonstrate leadership in bringing into effect "A Framework to Improve the Social Union for Canadians", due to the partnerships that they have established on issues for children and persons with disabilities. In the spirit of the agreement to share "best practices", Ministers received information from Alberta on its Dave Thomas Foundation partnership initiative.
"The Dave Thomas special needs adoption partnership, including the CTV Television Network, is an excellent example of how private industry and government can work together to address a particular need in our communities", said Dr. Oberg. "I am pleased to share this successful Alberta initiative with my colleagues across Canada".
Earlier today Ministers responsible for Social Ministers released "The National Child Benefit Progress Report: 1999", which demonstrates the progress achieved since July 1998 on the National Child Benefit.
The Quebec Minister, the Honourable Pauline Marois, stated that while the government of Quebec basically shares the same objectives, it does not intend to be part of the Federal-Provincial approach to social policy. Quebec restates its desire to exercise full control over management of social policy within its territory, in keeping with its exclusive jurisdiction in this area.
Ministers responsible for Social Services will meet again in the fall to review continued progress on key social policy issues.
For more information contact:
Office of Minister Pettigrew
Communications for Dr. Oberg