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Phase 1 Provincial Summary
In Nova Scotia, Employment Support Services (ESS) is part of the Income and Employment Support Services Division and is administered by the Department of Community Services.
ESS is responsible for the development of employment-related initiatives for individuals in receipt of municipal and provincial social assistance throughout the province. The objective of ESS programming is to support social assistance recipients in moving from welfare to work by promoting self-sufficiency and enabling access to upgrading, training programs and job opportunities. ESS provides services to the extent necessary to enable recipients to gain entry-level employment in the shortest possible time through the least expensive means. Sub-programs include Career Planning for Single Parents, Employment Resource Centres, Work Activity Projects, Compass and Bridging to Success.
ESS is provided to income assistance recipients who have an identified need based on a comprehensive assessment by an income assistance worker. The required services are identified as Stream I to Stream IV: Stream I services are for individuals who are job ready or close to job ready; Stream II services are for individuals requiring career counselling and training before seeking entry-level employment; Stream III recipients have the potential to be employable, but currently have major barriers to training and labour force participation; Stream IV recipients are indefinitely unemployable or require long-term treatment interventions. People in Stream IV are likely to be severely disabled or aged or have life circumstances that impede their participation in employment services. No policy defines how long recipients can remain in particular streams. The streams are fluid, as the province is attempting to get away from a categorical base.
Participation in ESS is mandatory for social assistance recipients. Applicants aged 16 to 19 are not eligible. Social assistance may not be granted or continued to people who refuse to accept employment that is within their capability, an approved upgrading or training program or a job readiness process. Applicants and recipients have the right to appeal decisions on any matter relating to their entitlement to benefits. Non-participation in ESS may be accepted in exceptional cases e.g., if there are personal health and safety issues such as those related to family violence.
Although there is one program following one set of standards across the province, there may be some local variance in the way the program is delivered. The degree of variance is under review. The program is designed to ensure that participants not displace workers already?holding paid jobs in the local economy. Program flexibility is under review, as one of the aims of the program is to meet the needs of people from different backgrounds, including women, single parents, people with differing ethnocultural backgrounds, people with disabilities and youth.
The gross provincial budget for ESS for 199798 was $390 million. The province recovered $42.8 million from the municipalities. The costs to the municipalities and regions will be capped based on 199798. The province will pay for overages if costs exceed the 199596 figures. If costs are less, the savings will be split between the two levels of government. A two-year agreement is being signed to this effect. About 13,000 participants are involved in ESS programming.
Group orientation sessions are held for all employable recipients and may take up to three days. The sessions usually are held on-site in the provincial delivery office. If further orientation is required, it is one-on-one. Case managers are expected to continuously monitor the services provided to recipients. This role requires ongoing contact with recipients and service providers to ensure that appointments are kept and that appropriate and effective services are provided with minimum delay.
In addition to existing formal and informal program evaluations, the department plans to continue to refine current evaluation policies and practices and to work with both in-house and outside resources to accomplish this goal. Program audits occur regularly. Results are used to help decide whether to expand or modify the program or initiate new programs. They will also be used to ensure that program objectives are met and to improve overall service to the recipient.
April 1, 1998, represented the conclusion of the first phase of social assistance restructuring in Nova Scotia. As of that date, the province assumed responsibility for delivering all social assistance programs in Nova Scotia. This date also represented the start of the second phase, which includes an in-depth examination of social assistance policies and programs. The eventual goal is to create a modern, single assistance program that meets the needs of citizens.
© Copyright Canadian Council on Social Development, 1999. All rights reserved.