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Phase 2 Provincial Update
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The Saskatchewan Departments of Social Services and Post-Education and Skills Training are involved in programming.
Saskatchewan does not endorse workfare which demands unpaid work in exchange for benefits. The strategic directions for Building Independence - Income Security Redesign are intended to achieve an integration of social and economic policy principles and to realize the citizenship principle in policies and programs. Citizenship means that each individual has the right to a reasonable opportunity to be part of economic and community life. Each citizen also has the obligation to be self-supporting and to contribute to the fullest extent of one's capacities.
A key focus of Income Security Redesign has been to reduce the 'welfare wall' by providing supports outside of the welfare system thereby broadening access to benefits to all low-income people rather than just welfare recipients. This approach returns the Saskatchewan Assistance Plan (SAP) to its role of providing basic income support for those in transition to employment and those unable to support themselves. Work with individuals is oriented towards preparation for and linkages to real jobs in the economy. In this way, all Saskatchewan people may enjoy prosperity, opportunity, security, and an improved quality of life as a result of full participation in a growing economy.
The first stage of Income Security Redesign saw the introduction of new benefit programs, profiled as part of the Building Independence strategy, to assist low-income families in the care of their children and to encourage and support their decision to work. Introduced in 1997, the Provincial Training Allowance, administered by Post Secondary Education and Skills Training (PSEST), provides support to learners attending adult basic education and related programs, to prepare them for participation in the labour market. In 1998, representing Saskatchewan's commitment to the National Child Benefit initiative, other programs were launched including the Saskatchewan Child Benefit, Saskatchewan Employment Supplement, and Family Health Benefits. With the introduction of these programs and an improved provincial economy, there has been a substantial decrease in the number of families receiving assistance. The median duration on assistance for families has declined by 25 per cent. As well, caseload decrease has been significant. Caseload dropped from 40,793 cases in June 1994 to 32,574 in June 2001 - a decline of 20.1 per cent.
Working with other departments, future redesign efforts will focus on the affordability and quality of housing, opportunities available for people with disabilities, issues of work and child care, and the enhancement of training and employment supports. Social assistance service delivery changes will redefine the role of staff to proactively support client attachment to the labour market.
The vision of Saskatchewan's post-secondary education and skills training (PSEST) sector is that through continuous learning, all Saskatchewan people will have the knowledge, skills and abilities to benefit from and contribute to society and the economic prosperity of the province.
PSEST is working on the development and implementation of a sector strategic plan with key sector partners, as a work in progress. The proposed plan has the following four goals:
- The province has high quality post-secondary education, training and employment programs and services.
- The sector meets the needs of individuals and communities.
- The sector meets the needs of employers and industry and contributes to economic growth.
- The sector contributes to the discovery, integration and application of knowledge.
Over the past few years the post-secondary education, training and employment services sector has assumed a greater role in meeting the education, training and employment needs of low-income people, including involvement in "mainstream" programs. The department is now responsible for delivering programs and services for social assistance recipients through its Canada-Saskatchewan Career and Employment Services that were formerly the responsibility of the New Careers Corporation. As well, the department has also taken on greater responsibility for income support through the implementation of the Provincial Training Allowance and the Skills Training Benefit programs.
PSEST and Social Services work together to review training and employment opportunities for social assistance clients to ensure availability and accessibility of these opportunities continues to be a priority of both departments. The two departments have developed a joint workplan that identifies common objectives and priority tasks. Capacity within the post-secondary sector continues to be under pressure from the range of demands being placed upon it.
Saskatchewan does not endorse workfare, which demands unpaid work in exchange for benefits. We are working with people to help them gain independence from social assistance and make the transition to real jobs by providing an array of education, training, employment and income support programs and services.
Welfare to Work Programs
Programs, Services and Program Participants
Saskatchewan Assistance Plan (2001-2002: Budget $254.5M; Projected Average Monthly Caseload 32,700)
The Saskatchewan Assistance Plan (SAP) provides financial assistance to people in need who have little or no income. SAP benefits are commonly referred to as social assistance or welfare. SAP provides a safety net for individuals and families whose needs cannot be met by the market economy due to unemployment or other circumstances or by federal income security programs, such as Employment Insurance. SAP eligible families and individuals also receive supplementary health coverage administered by Saskatchewan Health.
Social Services' staff work with clients to establish a transition plan to independence. Service delivery renewal will simplify program administration and refocus staff resources to activities which overcome client barriers to employment, education, training and community participation.
The Department continues to work with Post-Secondary Education and Skills Training toward the common objective of increasing the participation of low-income people in the labor force. Clients who are unable to find employment are referred to the nearest Canada-Saskatchewan Career and Employment Services office for assistance in accessing training and employment opportunities. Jobs First pilots, which advise new applicants of local job opportunities, began May 1, 2001, in Yorkton and Regina. Other pilot initiatives include telephone Call Centre access as the first point of service, First Step orientations to social assistance, and Transition Planning services to assist clients with planning for independence.
Saskatchewan Child Benefit (2001-2002: Budget $29.5M; Projected Average Monthly Caseload 26,200 Families)
Introduced July 1, 1998, the Saskatchewan Child Benefit (SCB) provides a monthly allowance to assist lower income families with the cost of raising children. SCB eligible families who do not have other supplementary health coverage are entitled to receive Family Health Benefits. By assisting families to meet the needs of their children, these programs enable low-income working parents to remain in the workforce, and reduce the barriers for parents moving from social assistance to work.
The SCB is administered on behalf of the province by Canada Customs and Revenue Agency and benefits are combined in a single payment with the Canada Child Tax Benefit and the National Child Benefit Supplement.
Saskatchewan Employment Supplement (2001-2002: Budget $16.9M; June 2001 Caseload 7,237)
The Saskatchewan Employment Supplement (SES), also introduced July 1, 1998, provides a monthly supplement to wages, child and/or spousal maintenance payments, and self-employment earnings of lower income parents. The program assists parents with the child-related costs of going to work and supports their decision to work.
SES is administered from a central call centre located in Regina, using innovative technology to deliver the program in an efficient, cost-effective, and family-friendly manner. For convenience, the call centre features extended hours of operation and is open on weekends.
Family Health Benefits
This program, administered by Saskatchewan Health, provides health benefits to lower income working families to ensure they do not fall onto welfare because of the health needs of their children, and to help families on welfare enter the workforce without losing child health benefits. Eligibility for Family Health Benefits is determined based on family income as reported on income tax return or by eligibility through SES.
Child Day Care Program (2001-2002: Budget $18.4M)
Child Day Care supports Saskatchewan families by promoting quality early childhood care and education of children, particularly while parents go to work, pursue employment, or access education and training leading to employment. The Child Day Care Branch became a part of the Income Security Division on February 1, 2001, recognizing child care as an important element of the Building Independence strategy and linkages to independence for low-income people and communities.
As of March 31, 2001, there were 135 licensed child day care centres operating in the province with a total of 4,951 child care spaces. An additional 299 family child care providers were licensed to operate some 2,215 spaces in their homes. These spaces provide licensed services for just over five per cent of children under 12 years of age with working mothers in the province.
The Child Care Subsidy Program administers financial support for low-income families needing child care. During 2000-2001, the Child Care Subsidy Program funded licensed child care facilities on behalf of just over 3,400 children from about 2,700 low-income families. The monthly subsidy averaged $220 per child and helped some 2,400 single parents, primarily women, and 300 two-parent families, to participate in the workforce or receive training.
Income Support (2001-2002 Budget $73.9M):
Saskatchewan PSEST provides needs-based income support to qualified students enrolled in approved post-secondary courses of study, under three programs:
The Saskatchewan Student Assistance Program provides financial assistance to supplement the Canada Student Loan for full-time post-secondary students. The financial assistance is in the form of loans, bursaries, and study grants to needy students enrolled in post-secondary programs of study. The program also features:
- a Special Incentive Plan, which provides additional loan assistance and supplementary bursary assistance and loan remission to eligible students from disadvantaged groups: custodial single parents, Non-Status Indian or MÈtis, and individuals from Northern Saskatchewan;
- Canada/Saskatchewan Study Grants, which are only available to students who have dependent children and whose student loan assistance exceeds $275 per week of study;
- an Interest Relief Plan, which provides interest relief and deferred payments for students unable to repay their loans due to low income. The period of interest relief will be extended from 18 months to 54 months effective August 1, 2001 as part of the new Canada/Saskatchewan Integrated Student Loan Agreement;
- a new Debt Reduction in Repayment benefit, effective August 1, 2001, as part of the Canada/Saskatchewan Integrated Student Loan Agreement, which will reduce the principal amount of a loan for students who are still having difficulty repaying their loan after their interest relief has been exhausted; and,
- debt reduction benefits, which ensure a student's combined federal and provincial debt load will not exceed $180 per week for the first 170 weeks of post-secondary study.
The Provincial Training Allowance (PTA) Program provides grant assistance to low income adult students enrolled in basic education and related studies, short skill courses, and bridging programs, to assist with their costs of living. Students are also provided with supplemental health coverage.
The Skills Training Benefit Program provides financial assistance to people eligible for Employment Insurance and reachbacks enrolled in training programs. The program is designed to help people with their transition back to work and is managed by the province.
JobStart/Future Skills (2001-2001 Budget - $16.9M) links workplace and classroom training to jobs. The components of the JobStart/Future Skills program include:
- Work-based Training: training assistance for employers to provide recognized training for the unemployed;
- Institutional Quick Response Training: completion of credited institutional-based training to meet needs of employers;
- Sector Partnerships: industry-driven program provides funding to encourage partnerships among industry, key stakeholders, including First Nations and MÈtis, and training providers to assist with human resource planning.
- Employment Programs (2001-2002 Budget - $11.4M) help unemployed people, particularly those on provincial social assistance and Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, get the training and work experience they need to get a job or to become self-employed. Employers benefit by finding workers to fill jobs. Employment programs and services include:
- Bridging: provides a flexible range of programs, services and supports that enable clients to become job ready;
- Work Placement: helps participants gain work experience by placing social assistance recipients (SARs) and EI clients in new or existing private sector jobs;
- Community Works: helps participants gain meaningful work experience by providing job placements with community-based organizations;
- Self-Employment: provides funding for training, services and supports that assist SARs and EI clients develop, implement, and operate viable businesses; and,
- Job Development Services: program consultants work with businesses, community groups and local governments to identify job opportunities for individual and the skills needed for those jobs.
The Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission is an industry-led agency with a legislative mandate for apprentice renewal.
The Commission works to increase its partnerships with industry, Aboriginal post-secondary institutions and organizations, students, and communities, to increase access to apprenticeship training and certification programs.
Basic Education and Literacy:
Basic Education - Consolidated Program (2001-2002 Budget - $11.4M)
In 2001-02, approximately 7,250 learners will be assisted annually through basic education and literacy training.
Basic Education Counseling (2001-2002 Budget - $ .8M)
Funding is provided to SIAST, regional colleges and Dumont Technical Institute to provide counseling and assessment services to help learners make good choices regarding basic education and related training and career preparation.
Literacy (2001-2002 Budget - $1.1 M)
Literacy funding supports the ongoing delivery of literacy programs and services, which are based on a volunteer tutor literacy program delivery model.
Provincial Literacy Strategy:
The Government of Saskatchewan is committed to promoting and developing a highly literate and skilled workforce.
The department, in cooperation with sector partners and stakeholders is developing a Provincial Literacy Strategy and has established a steering committee to oversee its articulation and development.
Employability Assistance for People with Disabilities (EAPD) Agreement (2001-2002 Budget - $5.1M):
Through the EAPD agreement the province delivers employability-related programs and services for adults with disabilities and the federal government shares the cost.
These programs and services assist people with disabilities to prepare for, secure and maintain employment.
Canada-Saskatchewan Career and Employment Services:
The Department, through its offices in 20 locations across the province, provides a range of career and employment services for both job seekers and employers.
These offices work with a variety of key partners including regional colleges, SIAST, Human Resources Development Canada, Saskatchewan Social Services, employers, and community-based organizations to provide an integrated and expanded system of employment services and career planning and information for all Saskatchewan residents.
Offers one-stop career, education, employment and labour market information.
The site provides current information on planning a career, finding a job, filling a vacancy, learning which skills are in demand, choosing educational and skills training opportunities, obtaining information on financial assistance, and linking to other interesting and informative sites.
A unique feature of the site is the new SaskJobs component that provides job seekers and employers with on-line help finding work and workers.
Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition Services (PLAR):
The department is actively involved in supporting the Saskatchewan Labour Force Development Board's (SLFDB) PLAR Services Project.
This project is focused on building capacity for a sustainable PLAR delivery system in the province and assisting individuals seeking assessment and recognition of non-formal learning. PSEST is providing a significant contribution to the PLAR Services project through an estimated in-kind contribution of $145,000.
Aboriginal and Northern Education Programs and Initiatives (current funding Appendix B):
Post-Secondary Sector Aboriginal Education and Training Action Plan:
PSEST is currently developing a multi-year plan to improve the access and success of Aboriginal people in post-secondary education, training and employment.
Discussions with stakeholders took place this spring to refine and finalize this action plan with implementation targeted for April 1, 2002.
Preliminary goals of the action plan are:
- Achieve an Aboriginal representative skilled workforce.
- A post-secondary education and training system that supports Aboriginal peoples' access and success in education and training.
- Aboriginal involvement in decision-making, and the design and delivery of post-secondary programs and services
The government of Saskatchewan and the Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission (ATCC) are working together to increase access and success of Aboriginal people to apprenticeship. Key to this will be the involvement and support of industry, as individuals must first be employed before they can become apprentices.
In the 2001-02 budget, the province provided $400,000 in support of Aboriginal Apprenticeship.
The ATCC Board established on October 26, 2000, includes representation from First Nations People, MÈtis People and Northern Saskatchewan.
Examples of Aboriginal initiatives in apprenticeship include:
- ATCC partnered with the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT) to:
- develop a Joint Training Committee to register contracts of apprenticeship with First nations members to support access to training and employment in apprenticeship occupations.
- The ATCC is partnering with Dumont Technical Institute (DTI) to develop a Joint Training Committee to facilitate the training and certification of MÈtis people in apprenticeship occupations.
- A Northern Apprenticeship Committee (NAC) has been established with membership from ATCC, employers, unions, First Nations, MÈtis Nation, Northern Trainers, local government, mineral sector and Office of Northern Affairs. The purpose of NAC is to improve Northerners' access to training in apprenticeship trades and the employment that is necessary to complete an apprenticeship.
- The Regina and Saskatoon Career Construction Projects are partnerships involving industry, SIAST, the ATC and the Aboriginal Community where individuals receive basic trade and safety training and are employed on local construction work sites.
Northern Training Program (NTP) (2001-2002 Budget - $2.5M):
The NTP helps fund the development and delivery of employment-directed training for adult northerners through basic skills, pre-employment, apprenticeship and technical training programs.
It helps fund training programs for the mineral and forestry sector initiatives, apprenticeship, career symposiums and workshops on agriculture, small business, health and renewable resources.
Northern Teacher Education Program (NORTEP) and the Northern Professional Access College (NORPAC) (2001-2002 Budget - $1.8M):
In 2000, a new five-year agreement with NORTEP/NORPAC was signed.
NORTEP is a very successful teacher education program offered in La Ronge. It is designed to increase the number of Aboriginal teachers in northern Saskatchewan.
NORPAC, which is offered along with NORTEP, offers the first two years of an Arts and Science degree program with the intent of offering a full degree in the future.
NORTEP/NORPAC has recently been developing a Math-Science program to add a full range of first-year Math, Science, and Engineering courses to existing programs in order to prepare northerners, especially those of Aboriginal ancestry, to qualify for entry into science-based professional colleges.
Currently, there are 124 students enrolled in NORTEP and NORPAC.
To date, 245 teachers have graduated from the NORTEP program with 176 of those still working or teaching in education related jobs. The Universities of Saskatchewan and Regina cooperate with NORTEP/NORPAC faculty members to deliver university-accredited courses in La Ronge.
NORTEP receives annual operating grants from the Department of Post-Secondary Education and Skills Training.
2001-02 funding for NORTEP/NORPAC will have an increase of 3.5% to help them meet operating costs.
Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP):
The SUNTEP program is designed to increase the number of teachers of Aboriginal ancestry in Saskatchewan.
SUNTEP was established in 1980 by the Gabriel Dumont Institute (GDI) and has graduated over 500 teachers with their Bachelor of Education degree. It is funded by PS EST and is offered in co-operation with the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan.
A large majority of the SUNTEP students are female and mostly single mothers. Most are mature students, who, prior to being accepted into SUNTEP, tended to be plagued by high unemployment, a high incidence of poverty, and a degree of dependence upon government support of one form or another.
MÈtis students entering the SUNTEP program access the Student Financial Assistance program, however, their tuition and course costs are paid by the program. Without SUNTEP, most MÈtis students would be unable to attain their education degree.
SUNTEP received a 3.5% increase in core costs and tuition costs in 2001-02.
The department provides annual core funding to SUNTEP, which was $1.9M in 2001-2002. It also provides funding for tuition and course costs for a maximum of 180 MÈtis students each year. The universities are reimbursed by SUNTEP for faculty and instructional costs.
Gabriel Dumont Institute (GDI):
GDI provides cultural resources and offers programs (the most significant being SUNTEP) and is a MÈtis controlled institution.
The department provided GDI $1.2M in the 2001-2002 Budget.
Dumont Technical Institute (DTI):
DTI was established in 1992 as a MÈtis controlled and managed technical institute federated with SIAST. DTI has a federation agreement with SIAST and a protocol agreement with the regional colleges to enable partnerships with these organizations.
Offers technical/vocational programs such as auto mechanics and carpentry, as well as programs which provide basic academic preparedness, such as literacy and Adult Basic Education, which enables students to take additional, job-related training.
Approximately 675 students are enrolled in its programs.
In 2001-2002, the province provided $406,010 directly to DTI to support its operation and administration. In addition, the province allocates $2.06M to DTI for program delivery.
As well, Saskatchewan Post-Secondary Education and Skills Training has partnered with other agencies in two long-term training initiatives to improve the employment opportunities for people in the northern half of the province, most of whom are Aboriginal people:
Multi-Party Training Plan (MPTP)
The MPTP is an agreement between partners and stakeholders involved in the mining industry, and includes government, mining companies, training institutions, and Aboriginal organizations.
It has been renewed for a second five-year term.
Forestry Sector Partnership Agreement (2001-02 Budget: $.859M)
This is new initiative being modeled after the MPTP approach used in the mineral (mining) sector.
Industry, training institutions, government, and Aboriginal organizations will identify training priorities and contribute funding for training leading to employment in the forestry sector.
The division has mechanisms in place which allow citizens to appeal decisions concerning either their eligibility or amount of assistance.
A recipient of social assistance may appeal a decision by submitting a request in writing to the Regional Director. The Regional Director will ask senior officials to review the case. If an adjustment does not result, a hearing of the Local Appeal Committee, made up of local interested citizens, will be held within 30 days from the date the appeal is made. If recipients or Regional Directors are not satisfied with the decision of the Local Appeal Committee, they may ask for an appeal before the provincial Social Services Appeal Board, whose members are also independent citizens. The decision of the Provincial Appeal Board is final.
A separate appeal process exists for the income tested programs such as the Saskatchewan Employment Supplement. A recipient may make a request for an appeal to the program manager. If the appellant is not satisfied, they may appeal to an adjudicator for review. A decision must be made within 20 days and is final.
Community Based Organizations (CBOs):
CBOs are critical partners of the post-secondary training and employment system, especially for the delivery of specialized services to particular groups of individuals such as multi-barriered clients, thereby enhancing their ability to participate in the labour force.
The department is working to ensure that CBOs participate in assessment and planning processes related to training and service needs in communities; and, provide support to training institutions and employers in helping members from equity groups access and succeed in training and employment.
In 2001-2002, there is $5.0M allocated to CBOs for the delivery of career and employment services. Approximately $3.25M is targeted to organizations, which have multi-year contracts with the department. $1.75M will be used for one-year project contracts with CBOs.
Department programs such as Bridging to Employment, Community Works, and the Employability Assistance for Persons with Disabilities (EAPD) have a CBO component that will continued.
Local, regional and provincial partnerships involving the post-secondary sector form the basis for planning and delivery of education, training and employment programs and services.
The post-secondary institutions in the province are involved in various labour market planning and needs assessment processes to provide a broad understanding of the training and employment needs of communities, as well as to monitor the social and economic climate.
This information forms the basis for the development and delivery of appropriate programs and services to meet the needs of the community.
The Department of PSEST implemented an Evaluation Policy and Framework in November 1998. All policies, programs, and services administered, delivered, or contracted by the department fall within the evaluation framework and policy. A schedule for evaluating specific department programs, services, and initiatives is established annually.
One of the key components of the department's evaluation approach is to investigate the department's programs and services, in terms of access and supports for social assistance recipients to develop skills and find employment. Every evaluation identifies areas for improvement. The department and stakeholders develop recommendations, responses and actions to address these areas along with timelines for completion.
The following evaluations were conducted by PSEST as part of its accountability requirements and commitment to continuous improvement:
The Basic Education (BE) evaluation focussed on, accessibility, responsiveness, flexibility; effectiveness, linkages to employment or further training, and system integration. This evaluation was completed in December 1999.
Findings from this evaluation included that enrollments in BE programs by low-income groups were greater in 1998-1999 than they were in 1994-1994. This was attributed to the greater number of program options available in 1998-1999, as well as changes in financial support for participants (introduction of the Provincial Training Allowance).
Recommendations from this evaluation include: examining alternative delivery approaches to increase capacity and effectiveness in the program; developing standard assessments and screening of applicants; curriculum changes to ensure the program meets the needs of learners and employers; and, focussing on the needs of Aboriginal students to improve their success in the transition from BE to work or further training. Follow-up on the recommendations is being implemented in cooperation with sector partners and stakeholders.
Provincial Training Allowance (PTA):
PSEST and the Department of Social Services conducted the evaluation of PTA. The evaluation assessed the program's goals of access, independence, fairness and equity, and efficiency and effectiveness. When available, a summary of the findings and the department's response to the recommendations will be put on the department's website.
Canada-Saskatchewan Agreement on Labour Market Development (LMDA):
The LMDA aims to assist individuals to prepare for, obtain, and maintain employment and to reduce their dependency on government forms of income support, including those on EI benefits and reachbacks.
A formative evaluation of the LMDA is nearing completion. This evaluation is jointly managed by PSEST and Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC).
The goals of this evaluation are to address the rationale, design, delivery, planning and implementation and preliminary indications of outcomes for programs covered by the LMDA.
This evaluation addresses the JobStart/Future Skills Program's effectiveness in providing timely, relevant, and cost-effective training that benefits both employers and trainees.
The evaluation was completed in June 2001. Recommendations arising from the evaluation will be publicly released in the near future.
Employment Assistance for People with Disabilities (EAPD):
Evaluation of two Saskatchewan programs, the EAPD program, delivered by the Department of PSEST; and the Long-Term Employment Initiative (LTEI) delivered by the Department of Social Services, was initiated under the EAPD Agreement.
The evaluation's objectives were to: analyze the programs' design and operations relative to the EAPD principles and the programs' goals and objectives; analyze the programs' effectiveness, impact and continued relevance in meeting the needs of people with disabilities; and, to offer conclusions about the programs' strengths and shortcomings.
Key findings from this evaluation concluded that each program is client-focused, flexible to accommodate a range of client and employer needs and program duplication has been avoided. This evaluation was completed in June 2001 and recommendations are under development.
Construction Careers Development Project (CCDP):
The CCDP was established in Saskatchewan in August 1998 to address "human resource requirements of the construction industry and to engage First Nations participants and others in skill development and employment in the construction sector".
The program targets groups that have traditionally experienced barriers to participation: First Nations people, SARs and EI/reachback clients.
The overall objective of the CCDP evaluation is to "assess the effectiveness and impacts of the project and to identify options for modification". There are four main evaluation issues: rationale; delivery and design; impacts and effects; and alternatives.
Representatives from industry, employers, the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, CCDP and PSEST will study the evaluation results and draft recommendations.
Target for completion of this evaluation is July/August 2001.
Career and Employment Services/Skills Training Benefit
The evaluation of Career and Employment Services (CES) and the Skills Training Benefit (STB) and has two main objectives: to assess the effectiveness and impacts of the CES and STB and identify options for modification.
The target for completion of this evaluation is June 2002.
Saskatchewan Social Services