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


Kananaskis, Alberta --Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Social Services released the Summary of Provincial/Territorial/First Nations Initiatives under the National Child Benefit (NCB)1999-2000 today at their annual meeting in Kananaskis, Alberta. They also discussed initiatives for persons with disabilities and low-income families. The Ministers' meeting was co-chaired by the Honourable Jane Stewart, Minister of Human Resources Development Canada and the Honourable Clint Dunford, Minister of Alberta Human Resources and Employment.

Through the NCB, governments share a commitment to reducing the depth of child poverty and increasing labour market attachment. By July 2000, the Government of Canada will be providing $1.7 billion per year in increased income support directly to low-income families with children. Provinces, Territories and First Nations are providing $500 million in NCB-related benefits and services this year, an increase of $200 million from last year. These programs include child care, child benefits and earned income supplements, prenatal and early childhood services, supplementary health benefits and other programs for low-income families with children.

"Our significant investments in the National Child Benefit indicate the importance that all governments place on building a platform of income support and services for low-income families and their children in Canada," said Minister Stewart.

"Today's announcement underscores the fact that Provinces, Territories and First Nations are committed to building a strong array of benefits and services for low-income families in this country. The reinvestments reflect what jurisdictions feel is needed to help families in their communities. It's an excellent example of governments working together on common priorities," said Minister Dunford.

Provincial and Territorial Ministers welcomed the Government of Canada's commitment to a third significant investment in the NCB by July 2001. Ministers agreed that, as federal funding for income support through the NCB is increased, Provinces and Territories will continue to invest in complementary programs and services for low-income families. They also asked officials to continue the joint work necessary to solidify the future design of the program.

Ministers also reviewed joint work currently underway in both social services and health sectors on early childhood development, including possible areas where governments can work together. Ministers agreed that this work should form the basis for responding to the federal government's invitation in the Speech from the Throne to work together in this area. They committed to working with Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Ministers of Health to move forward as quickly as possible on early child development. This work will be coordinated with the work of the Ministerial Council on Social Policy Renewal on the National Children's Agenda.

Ministers also recognized the importance of the Canada Health and Social Transfer in funding social services for Canadians.

Ministers discussed the negative impact of violence on television and in videos on child development and behavior. Also, Provincial and Territorial governments agreed to work together on programs and services for children at risk, both in terms of child prostitution and child welfare. "Provincial borders should not be a barrier to the safety of young people," said Minister Dunford. Premiers had first raised the issue of child prostitution at the Annual Premiers' Conference in August 1999.

Ministers also discussed initiatives for persons with disabilities. They noted that a productive meeting with representatives of the disability community and experts was held in September 1999 to solicit further input on how to measure progress on implementing In Unison: A Canadian Approach to Disability Issues. Based on this input, Ministers approved key elements of an accountability framework including reporting on progress using societal indicators and effective practices, and continuing to seek input from the disability community. Ministers also reviewed development of Disability Links, a website with information on programs and services for persons with disabilities. The site will be launched early in the year 2000.

Provinces and Territories also noted continuing concerns about immigration and citizenship matters, saying that changes to international adoptions and sponsorship arrangements must be developed in conjunction with provinces and territories.

For its part, Minister Pauline Marois underscored that the Government of Quebec did not sign the Social Union Framework Agreement and does not participate in joint initiatives that are associated with it, since the Government of Quebec intends to exert full control over social policies in its territory. Thus, references to joint federal-provincial positions in this communiqué do not reflect Quebec's position.

"We are pleased with the progress of our meeting today and we look forward to building on the success of the National Child Benefit, bringing the same spirit of collaboration to all of our work together" said Minister Stewart.

Nova Scotia looks forward to assuming the role of lead province among Social Services Ministers for 1999-2000.

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For further information, contact:

Brigitte Nolet
Press Secretary
Minister Stewart's Office
(819) 953-2353

Shelby MacLeod
Executive Assistant
Minister Dunford's Office
(780) 415-4800