Welfare to Work

Phase 2

Provincial and Territorial Updates

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Phase 2 Provincial Update

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Welfare to Work Programs


Employment-Assistance Measures, Programs, and Service

Employment-Assistance Program (social assistance)

Parental Wage Assistance Program (PWA)

Fonds de lutte contre la pauvreté par la réinsertion au travail (Anti-Poverty Fund)


The Act respecting income support, employment assistance and social solidarity came into force on October 1, 1999. The Act provides for measures, programs, and services aimed at promoting the economic and social independence of individuals and assisting them in their employment entry, reentry, or retention efforts.

These employment-assistance measures, programs, and service are linked to various aspects of an active labour market policy, i.e., job preparation, integration, creation, retention, stabilization, and creation.

The Act respecting income support, employment assistance and social solidarity also provides for the reconfiguration of social assistance programs through the creation of the Employment-Assistance Program. This program provides last-resort financial assistance to people capable of work, encourages them to undertake or continue efforts to find their place in the labour market, and supports them along the path to employment. It is also aimed at providing last-resort financial assistance to people who have certain employment constraints.

The Rationale for the Programs

In June 1995, the Government of Québec initiated an in-depth reform of the income security system and tabled a green paper in late 1996 entitled "The Road to Labour Market Entry, Training and Employment."

The green paper set out the major orientations of the reform:

The Act respecting income support, employment assistance and social solidarity gave concrete form to these orientations by providing for improved services to support recipients in their job entry, re-entry, or retention efforts.

Program Activities

Main Activity

The main activity is to help recipients enter the labour market.

Basic Universal Services

The Ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale provides its clients with the following basic services to help them find employment:

Various types of basic universal services are available, including individualized support and advice from specialized staff; group sessions; special events such as regional job fairs; and access to the multiservice rooms in local employment centres (LEC).

The multiservice rooms are equipped with PCs with employment assistance software, touch-screen Job-Info terminals for easier job bank consultation, as well as documentation on the labour market, bulletin boards, telephones, and photocopiers. LECs have also increased the number of group sessions that provide information on job search techniques and tools, the labour market, and on how to make best use of self-service tools, and that encourage clients to take advantage of employment measures and services.

Individualized Integration, Training, and Employment Plan

The Ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité may also suggest certain activities to income security recipients in the framework of an individualized integration, training, and employment plan. These may take the form of job readiness activities such as general or specialized training, job integration or retention measures, or job creation support, notably through self-employment.

These measures are offered through the public employment services administered by Emploi-Québec, an independent service unit under the aegis of the Ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité. They may also be offered to employment assistance recipients and, in certain cases, to other people who do not have sufficient resources to meet their needs while participating in an active measure.

The Employment Assistance Services Measure

The Employment Assistance Services Measure has the following objectives:

This measure only includes short-term, placement-related activities.

The main activities and services are

External suppliers may also offer activities and services that complement those of local employment centres (LECs).

The Job Preparation Projects Measure

The Job Preparation Projects Measure is aimed at helping people who are disadvantaged in terms of employment acquire or develop personal and occupational skills through combined job preparation and reintegration activities.

This measure allows people to participate in a variety of integrated and intensive personalized employability development activities offered by external suppliers. In addition to a general approach, it also includes more specialized activities such as internships in job integration businesses, and young volunteer projects, as well as on-the-job and other socio-occupational internships outside Québec.

The main activities and services are

Generally speaking, projects must favor a group approach, include hands-on work experience, and offer support and follow-up services for at least twelve weeks to participants who have completed their activities, whether they have found a job or not. The projects must also involve individual participation for at least 180 hours, or an average of at least 20 hours a week for the duration of the project.

The Labour Training Measure (MFOR)

The Labour Training Measure is aimed at helping specific clienteles acquire employment-related skills by providing assistance to individuals and employers in order to adapt the training to make it easier for people to find or retain a job.

Eligible individuals must generally have finished or abandoned regular studies at least 24 months before the training activity. There are certain exceptions to the 24 month rule, including adolescent mothers who want to continue their training.

Eligible activities include those that teach employment-related, transferable training in literacy, French-language learning and second-language studies, as well as high school, college, and university courses aimed at job integration or retention with due regard for the effective, efficient use of funding. Appreciation training, which is defined as 45 hours or less of intensive or part-time training provided by government agencies, the private sector, or community organizations, is also an eligible activity.

In addition to in-school training, various types of adapted training activities are also eligible, including work-study programs, distance training, on-the-job training, etc.

Related activities may also be piggybacked onto training activities to evaluate participants' skills, help them prepare for their training, provide individualized coaching and job placement services, and obtain recognition for prior learning and skills, etc.

The duration of the training varies depending on the individualized integration, training, and employment plan, but generally must not exceed three years.

Emploi-Québec favors recourse to the public education system and private establishments funded by the Ministère de l'…ducation when the service is available and accessible. Community organizations and cooperatives that specialize in job training as well as other external suppliers that provide specialized training may also be called upon.

The Wage Subsidy Measure

The Wage Subsidy Measure is aimed at the direct job integration of people at risk of prolonged unemployment. This integration measure consists of a subsidy granted to the employer to cover all or part of the wage paid to the employee.

This measure has two approaches. The first is aimed at placing people at risk of prolonged unemployment in long-term jobs and at offering young graduates a first work experience in their area of study. The second is aimed at enabling people at risk of prolonged unemployment to acquire transferable occupational experience that can serve as a springboard to finding long-term jobs.

The measure is more specifically for people at risk of prolonged unemployment who, without a wage subsidy, would have considerable difficulty in entering the labour market.

Wage subsidies must be used to fill a full-time, vacant, or new position. They must at no time be used to replace employees.

With the exception of social economy enterprises, the grant period may not exceed 30 weeks. However, under exceptional circumstances, the period may be extended to a maximum of 40 weeks if the difficulty experienced by the participant in entering the labour market justifies the extension.

The Return to Work Supplement Measure

The Return to Work Supplement Measure is aimed at encouraging target clients to accept employment through a return-to-work incentive.

Low-income recipients who wish to work often face increased financial worries arising from the additional expenses related to their return to work that have to be paid even before they receive their first pay cheque. The one-time return to work supplement improves access to employment for people who otherwise would have had difficulty paying these transition costs.

People who had little or no work during the twelve months prior to returning to work may be eligible for this measure subject to certain conditions.

The Return to Work Supplement is a lump-sum payment of $500 made to eligible people who provide proof that they have found a job. It must be full-time employment, generally at least 30 hours a week.

The Self-Employment Support Measure

The Self-Employment Support Measure is aimed at helping target clients gain their financial independence by enabling them to create or expand their businesses or become self-employed.

It provides support and consulting services to people with promising projects to help them get their businesses off the ground. It also involves working hand-in-hand with community stakeholders with experience in entrepreneurship.

The measure has a concerted, local economic development focus and administrative responsibility is hared by Emploi-Québec and the Ministère des Régions.

Projects presented by individual applicants must be viable to be eligible. They must meet a community need, not saturate their economic sector, and, because of the source of the funding, not create unfair competition with existing companies.

The duration of the financial assistance is negotiated on an individual basis but may not exceed a maximum period of 65 weeks.

The Social Integration Measure

The Social Integration Measure is aimed at developing attitudes, behavior patterns, and abilities that will increase employment opportunities of people for whom a return to the labour market can only be envisaged in the medium to long term.

Projects must be presented by community organizations. They must allow for the development of abilities, attitudes, and behavior patterns that promote social and occupational integration through participation in voluntary community or literacy training activities. Under no circumstances may projects involve work that would be done by salaried employees.

There is no maximum participation period. However, participation must be reevaluated after twelve months and may be prolonged if justified.

Activities under this measure generally require 60 hours of participation a month for the first six months and 80 hours a month thereafter.

Measures Directly Related to the Employment-Assistance Program (income security)

The Destination Emploi strategy is designed for first-time income security recipients as well as people who are already on income security and who do not have employment constraints.

This approach involves two steps. First, once a person's eligibility for employment assistance is confirmed, a meeting is set up with a socioeconomic aid officer to evaluate their employment potential. The person also receives information on their rights and obligations regarding employment assistance and on the resources available to help find a job.

Participants then have two options: meet with an employment-assistance officer to draw up a personalized action plan or look for work on their own. In the case of the second option, the person must participate in a job search support activity organized by Emploi-Québec. During these activities, participants receive information on the labour market and the tools and services available to job seekers. They also receive advice on how to draw up a personal job search plan tailored to their individual circumstances.

If participants have not found a job after six months, they must meet again with a socioeconomic aid officer, who may refer them to Emploi-Québec for more specialized assistance.

The Solidarité jeunesse project is a large-scale pilot project aimed at offering young people under 21 an alternative to income security. Participation in Solidarité jeunesse is completely voluntary and specialized organizations offer personalized support and guidance for one year.

For the first three months, participants will be asked to take part in activities that are aimed at helping them achieve financial independence. At the end of this period, the young people are offered the option of taking part in training or job integration activities, returning to school with the helping of a student bursary or loan, or getting a job.

During the first three months, participants receive an allocation equivalent to their income security benefits plus an additional $130 a month.

This measure is for young people who are eligible for income security, who are at risk of prolonged unemployment, and who wish to take advantage of an alternative to income security.

The PWA Program

The Parental Wage Assistance Program (PWA) provides a wage supplement to parents whose gross revenue is under $22,000 and who have at least one dependent child. This program is aimed at helping low-income parents keep their jobs and to help parents receiving income security benefits to reintegrate the labour market.

The supplement paid under the PWA Program depends on the number of family members, the family circumstances, total income, childcare expenses, and housing costs. The supplement gradually rises to a maximum determined by family circumstances and then gradually decreases and drops to zero when the family pay one dollar in provincial income tax.

Fonds de lutte contre la pauvret par la réinsertion au travail (Anti-Poverty Fund)

The Fonds de lutte contre la pauvreté par la réinsertion au travail (Anti-Poverty Fund) was established in 1997 for an initial period of three years. Given the positive results, the Government of Québec, in collaboration with its partners, decided to renew the Fund for another three-year period with a total budget of $160 million.

The Fund supports job preparation, job creation, and job entry projects developed by sponsoring organizations to allow economically disadvantaged people to enter the labour market. It is aimed at a variety of clienteles, including employment-assistance recipients and immigrants, especially visible minorities and women.

Designing and Implementing the Program

Responsibility for Designing and Implementing the Program

The Ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale is mandated to design the programs aimed at meeting the financial needs of people on income security and promoting their social and occupational reintegration.

Until 1997, government employment services were offered by the Travail-Québec centres (TQC), the Société québécoise de développement de la main-d'úuvre (SQDM), and Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC). At the time, no fewer than 117 assistance measures administered by a dozen departments and agencies were offered by the two levels of government.

The broad array of groups involved in the employment sector as well as uncoordinated actions by government, the private sector, and community stakeholders led to the fragmentation of employment services in Québec.

The Canadian and Québec governments signed a labour market agreement-in-principle in April 1997 followed by an implementation agreement in November of the same year. The agreement-in-principle transferred full responsibility to the Québec government for administering federal employment insurance funds for employment benefits, support measures, and job placement services (Part II).

The Government of Québec created the Ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale on May 15, 1997, bringing job placement services, active labour market measures, and job search support under one roof.

The Ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale has a two-fold mission: promote and support worker and employment development through an active labour market policy and implement financial assistance and income support policies and measures.

Local Input in Designing and Implementing Programs

The new scheme acknowledges the importance of local stakeholders and gives them great leeway in economic and employment matters. It allows them to manage the funds provided for the programs, which have fewer administrative constraints than before. The new scheme is based essentially on the mobilization and valorization of local potential and the desire of individuals and communities to find solutions for employment and development problems.

Employment-related actions must be based on local development and partnerships at every level.

Local employment centres (LEC) are the foundation of Québec's employment service network, with 153 centres spread out over all 17 regions.

Sources of Funding and Program Costs

A $796 million budget has been allocated to the Labour Market Development Fund for the year 2001-2002, nearly three-quarters of which comes from the Employment Insurance Account. The budget is used to fund the participation of employment insurance recipients, income security recipients, and other eligible people in program activities. Over 85% of the funding is distributed to the regions, while the core budget is limited to $111.6 million.

Subsidized Childcare

Income support for people taking part in a measure generally takes the childcare expenses incurred by participants into consideration.

Program Participants

Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility criteria vary depending on individual measures. They are outlined in the "Program Activities" section above.

Number of Recipients

There were 576,614 registered employment-assistance (income security) recipients in March 2001 (420,096 adults and 156,518 children). The average age of the adults is 41.9 years, and 51.1% are women. On average, recipients remain on income security for a cumulative total of 130 months. The following table shows the distribution in March 2001:

Number of adults without constraints



With temporary employment constraints



With severe employment constraints



Total number of adults




In 2001-2001, there were 145,280 recorded participations by income security recipients in active employment measures, including 2,374 funded by the Fonds de lutte contre la pauvreté par la réinsertion au travail (Anti-Poverty Fund). This does not include data on access to universal basic services.

People considered as disadvantaged in terms of employment are given special priority in order to promote their access to active employment measures.

Moreover, more than 32,000 households were registered in the PWA Program in 2000.

Nature of Program and Income Support Participation

The program is aimed at helping people in their efforts at social and occupational reintegration. People who take part in a measure are therefore generally entitled to a supplemental allowance or income support exceeding income security benefits.

The "Program Activities" section provides more detail on the nature of the participation in the various active employment measures.

Participant Guidance and Follow-Up

Generally speaking, socioeconomic aid officers at local employment centres (LEC) provide recipients with personalized guidance and follow-up throughout their participation in the program.

This guidance and follow-up is aimed at helping people pinpoint their employment and training requirements and evaluate their employment strengths, interests, and constraints; providing coaching during their efforts to find a job by identifying employment obstacles; determining if they are ready to work; and, lastly, providing the information on the steps they need to take in their job search efforts.

Appeal Process

Income security recipients who would like a decision to be reviewed have access to a structured appeal process.

Community Resources

Employment Basics

Factors Taken Into Consideration When Implementing Programs

Regional conditions, especially the local employment situation, are important factors that are taken into consideration when implementing programs.

Local requirements for skilled workers must correspond to the skills that participants already have or will develop during the program. Future employment requirements, unemployment rates, and the economic context together with its impact on regional employment are also taken into consideration.

Community Services

Partnerships With Community Stakeholders

Actions taken by the Ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité rely greatly on partnerships between the government and business associations, unions, and community groups.

On the provincial level, the Commission des partenaires du marché du travail helps develop labour market policies and strategies and determine labour market development requirements. Partners are also involved in the administration of Emploi-Québec by providing continuous feedback on action plan performance and goal attainment.
On the regional level, the regional councils of the Commission des partenaires du marché du travail are mandated to evaluate problems facing the regional labour market and propose regional action plans.
On the local level, Emploi-Québec works closely with the boards of directors of local development centres. The boards of directors are in charge of drawing up local economic development and employment plans that include a local labour market development strategy.

Community Diversity

Demographic factors such as age and gender distribution, the socioeconomic status of families, the rural/urban mix, ethnocultural diversity, and the status of the handicapped are taken into consideration when implementing programs.

Program Assessment and Review

Assessment and Review Procedures

The Direction de la recherche, de l'évaluation et de la statistique (DRES) of the Ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale conducts assessment studies on program implementation, satisfaction, relevance, and effectiveness using formative and summative assessments. They look at things such as the quality of the services provided, the employment measures and programs offered by the Ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale, as well as government policies and legislation.

DRES has conducted numerous studies in the past few years, a few of which are listed below:

A Few Results

The main results of the formative assessment of active measures show that

  1. Selected individuals who completed active measures during the assessment period corresponded well to the main eligibility criteria of the measures.
  2. The decompartmentalization of client groups (which is one of Emploi-Québec's intervention principles) to give everyone, whatever their status, equal access to public employment services was implemented according to plan.
  3. 73% of respondents completed their participation in a measure.
  4. 41.7% said that they had held at least one job in the 4 to 6 month period following the end of their participation in a measure: 75.1% had full-time jobs with an average hourly wage of $10.27, which is 11.1% higher than the median hourly wage ($9.00).

The main results of the assessment of the quality of the services provided to people who participated in active measures show that

  1. The level of satisfaction in terms of expectations varied depending on the factor being assessed (between 65% and 88%).
  2. Participants were very satisfied by the courtesy of the personnel and the quality of the communications (between 92% and 99%).
  3. Participants felt that Emploi-Québec offered services that were adapted to personal circumstances and requirements (between 80% and 91%).

The results of the assessment of the Fonds de lutte show that

  1. The Fund doubled the chances of finding a job after participating in a measure compared to a control group.
  2. 74% were employed 16 months on average after completing a measure.
  3. Participants were three times less dependent on employment-assistance after completing a measure compared to a control group.
  4. Participants who did not find a job after completing a measure were better equipped and more motivated by the active measure.

The operation of the new Fonds de lutte contre la pauvreté (2000-2003) will be assessed in 2001-2002 followed by an assessment of its performance.

The assessments of the effectiveness and impact of active measures offered to individuals that were begun in 2000-2001 will continue in 2001-2002. When completed, they will make it possible to measure long-lasting employment rates and the impact of using employment assistance and employment insurance to promote participation in active measures. Other assessment studies of active measures offered to individuals are planned between now and 2005.

Planned Changes and Orientations

In order to promote the return to work of long-time employment assistance recipients, the Ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale will be implementing a new measure called Action Emploi in the near future.

The measure will be aimed at recipients who have been on employment assistance for 36 months or more and who find full-time employment between April 1, 2001, and December 31, 2002. It provides for financial assistance paid as a monthly supplement beginning in January 2002. The supplement will be paid for a maximum period of three years and will gradually drop over time: $390 per month the 1st year, $260 a month the 2nd, and $130 the 3rd.

The measure may be renewed depending on the results obtained.

Additional Information

We recommend first consulting the Website of the Ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale.

For additional information, you may also contact the following person:



Simon Blouin


Employment Policy Advisor

Direction des politiques du marché du travail et de l'emploi


Ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale

425, Saint-Amable, 4e étage

Québec (Québec) G1R 4Z1

E-MAIL: simon.blouin@mess.gouv.qc.ca
TELEPHONE: (418) 646-2286
FAX: (418) 643-0019

Last Revised: Mon, Dec 17, 2001

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