Ottawa, March 12, 1998 -- Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers responsible for Social Services continued to move forward today on the implementation of the National Child Benefit and on benefits and services for persons with disabilities. The meeting of Ministers was co-chaired by the Honourable Pierre S. Pettigrew, Minister of Human Resources Development Canada and the Honourable Janet Ecker, Minister of Community and Social Services for Ontario and lead Provincial/Territorial Minister.
"Considerable progress has been made today," said Minister Ecker. "Our success in building partnerships and moving these important programs and benefits forward will help families, children and people with disabilities."
"I'm very happy that the Government of Canada has moved early to announce the investment of a second $850 million into the National Child Benefit system," said Minister Pettigrew. "This means that, by the year 2000, we will have contributed $1.7 billion to this program."
Ministers today released a report on the status of their reinvestment plans as part of the National Child Benefit. This is the first in a series of updates on reinvestment plans, with a major announcement planned in advance of implementation in July. Provinces and territories are investing in programs and benefits reflective of each jurisdiction' s special needs and priorities. The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that First Nations children living on-reserve benefit like other Canadian children from the National Child Benefit, and is consulting with First Nations, provinces and territories to develop reinvestment strategies.
Ministers reiterated their commitment to reinvestment and introducing or enhancing programs and benefits that help prevent and reduce the depth of child poverty and support parents in their transition to employment. Examples of the reinvestments being announced include:
In addition, Ministers also released a Governance and Accountability Framework and a paper on Approaches to Measuring and Reporting on Results. These will ensure the process remains transparent and open among all partners and to Canadians.
Ministers confirmed that they are working toward the finalization of new bilateral agreements on the Employability Assistance for People with Disabilities (EAPD) initiative. Most agreements will be in place by April 1, 1998. They will respond to the need for more employability-focused programs and services to help people with disabilities prepare for, obtain, and keep employment. Ministers are pleased to release today the Multilateral Framework on the EAPD to guide the development of these agreements.
Ministers also discussed issues related to benefits and services for persons with disabilities. Ministers were updated on the progress made in developing a paper that outlines a vision and key challenges, and agreed that work would continue to develop shared priorities to help Canadians with disabilities.
"We are pleased that the Government of Canada and provincial and territorial governments reaffirmed their commitment to respond to the special needs of Canadians with disabilities. Ensuring that Canadians with disabilities have every opportunity to be equal participants in the country's economic and social development is our common goal," said Ministers Pettigrew and Ecker.
Added Minister Pettigrew, "Canada's recent acceptance of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt International Disability Award gives us a reason to celebrate our society's progress on disability issues. The Award also helps us to focus on what remains to be done."
Ministers received a report on progress made in developing a comprehensive approach to a National Children's Agenda. Ministers will continue to provide input into the development of this important initiative.
Quebec Minister Marois affirmed that, while sharing essentially the same preoccupations, the Government of Quebec does not intend to adhere to the federal- provincial approach to social policies. The Government of Quebec reaffirms its will to exercise fully its control over the development, planning and management of social policies in its territory, in full accordance with its exclusive jurisdiction in this field. Consequently, any reference to joint federal-provincial positions does not include the Government of Quebec.
Ministers concluded the meeting by reconfirming their commitment to a collaborative and accountable process on these key social policy initiatives.
Office of Minister Pettigrew
Human Resources Development Canada
Office of Minister Ecker
Ontario Ministry of Community and