Welfare to Work

Phase 1

Provincial and Territorial Summaries

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Phase 1 Provincial Summary

Employment First, also known as the Employment and Income Assistance Program, is a program of the Department of Family Services in Manitoba. It supports employable social assistance recipients in finding work through the establishment of a mutual responsibility between the worker and the recipient. The responsibility of the recipient is to maintain an active job search. The responsibility of the worker is to provide the recipient with information on appropriate opportunities, to assist the recipient in identifying job search resources and to determine if the recipient is meeting the employment expectations. Employment First began May 1, 1996.

Employment First is applicable province-wide. It includes a changing variety of sub-initiatives targeted toward specific geographic areas, settings or types of recipients. Family Services has formed a partnership with the Department of Education and Training to provide training to help people prepare for job searches and subsequent employment. The Department of Education and Training also delivers a series of employment-based programs and services under its Community Partnerships and Employment Connections.

Participation in Employment First is mandatory for all income assistance recipients. If the recipient does not follow the employment plan, the worker may initiate remedial measures. Remedial measures may result in progressive budget reductions of up to $100. The initial benefit reduction is $50 per month. After six months of benefit reduction at the $50 level, there can be a further reduction of $50 per month to a maximum of $100. The worker reinstates the full benefits for which recipients are eligible as soon as recipients resume an appropriate employment enhancement activity or accept employment. Recipients have the right to appeal any decision; an appeals process has been established.

Recipients exempt from employment expectations include single parents with a child less than six, the parent of a dependent child more than six years of age who requires extensive care, people with disabilities, the elderly, people in authorized crisis facilities and people with physical or mental health problems. The employment expectation for a recipient who is a victim of abuse and is enrolled immediately after leaving a crisis intervention facility may also be deferred.

Local directors are expected to use their good judgement in implementing and administering the program. Employment First is sufficiently flexible to meet the special needs of a diversity of people, such as women, single parents, people with disabilities, aboriginal people, people with differing ethno-cultural backgrounds and Franco-Manitobans. The program was designed to ensure that participants not displace workers or volunteers in the local economy.

Participants must go through the program at an acceptable pace as outlined in their employment plan.

The Employment and Income Assistance budget allocation for 1996–97 was $391,190,300. The Making Welfare Work Allocation for 1996–97 was $3.5 million for Family Services and $3.8 million for Education and Training. In January 1997, the municipal caseload was 17,377 and the provincial caseload was 25,799. By January 1998, these numbers had gone down to 13,894 and 24,784, respectively.

Provincial caseloads for employable recipients have declined by over 13% since the implementation of welfare reform and the Employment First approach in May 1996. Municipal caseloads have declined by more than 30% for the same period.

Orientation is provided on-on-one and in group sessions. Where orientation sessions are available, it is expected that all single-parent and general assistance applicants attend. For follow-up, recipients must report at a frequency rate (usually monthly) agreed to in the employment plan. Also, counsellors may conduct as many home visits as necessary or may choose other forms of recipient contact.

Employment First is evaluated on the principle of what works best for whom. The general indicators used in determining the effectiveness or success of the program are a reduction in caseload and an increase in recipient earnings. The continued interest and satisfaction of participants in the program is also being evaluated. Findings will be used to determine future programming directions.

© Copyright Canadian Council on Social Development, 1999. All rights reserved.

Last Revised: Mon, Dec 17, 2001

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