Please click on one of the images below (check the message at the bottom left of the browser)...
Phase 2 Territorial Update
Click twice anywhere on page (except a link) to return to top
Employment Training Services (ETS) and Headstart (HS) are programs of the Ministry of Health and Social Services. ETS provides individual counselling to social assistance recipients on training, employment and attaining self-sufficiency. HS is a job training and wage-subsidy program designed exclusively for social assistance recipients. It began in 1993 as a federal-territorial joint program under the Social Assistance Recipients Agreement and was expanded to accommodate 45 people in 1994-95.
ETS and HS are the results of government action to increase the employability of social assistance recipients, eliminate waste, detect fraud, recover monies where appropriate and introduce incentives to get recipients off social assistance through increased exemptions.
Training and education are primarily provided at Yukon College, and various high schools and literacy programs focus on upgrading. Private sector (any private business in operation for at least six months), public sector (e.g., municipalities, First Nations) and non-profit (e.g., day-care centres) employers participate in the employment-based activities for recipients.
ETS and HS primarily target the longer-term unemployed, including people with disabilities. In most cases, employable people receiving social assistance become eligible for training and wage subsidies when they have been in receipt of social assistance for six months. Although ETS and HS are voluntary, employable social assistance recipients must complete a self-sufficiency plan and show that they are looking for alternative methods of support to continue to be eligible for social assistance. Participants have to complete the entire program within a specified period. For HS, the period is 20 weeks. There is more flexibility in ETS; it is supposed to be a 90-day period but can be longer if required or desired. Participants can repeat HS and ETS. Program participants may lose access to supplements or subsidies if program deadlines are not met. If they are not participating according to reasonable expectations, they will receive only emergency aid to cover food, shelter and utilities. A social assistance applicant or recipient can appeal any departmental decision on eligibility or level of assistance.
Under some circumstances, participants can leave the HS program and not be penalized. These include lack of child care, a communication or other breakdown that makes it unsuitable for the recipient to continue in a placement, family responsibilities or other circumstances beyond the control of the recipient.
There is some local flexibility in program design and implementation; consideration is given to the availability of employment, education, training opportunities and child care in the community. The program was designed to ensure that participants not displace workers already holding paid jobs in the local economy. The needs of aboriginal people are primarily met by Indian and Northern Affairs. Single parents and people with disabilities are the focus of some programming.
Funds have been allocated for ETS and HS as ongoing programs. The funding has been relatively constant. For 1996-97, the HS program cost is $300,000. ETS costs $150,000 for two full-time positions, plus benefits, plus $30,000 for contracts. The ETS program has a caseload of about 30 people, who rotate every 90 days. In addition, ETS offers resumes, drop-in help and workshops. Total caseload is about 300 per year. The HS program costs $6,000 per participant per year, which means it can handle 50 full-time contracts per year.
All new social assistance applicants attend ETS information workshops to familiarize themselves with opportunities to become self-sufficient. ETS has ongoing self-evaluations that result in changes to improve the program and the services offered. An evaluation of HS is just beginning.
Employment Training Services (ETS), Headstart (HS)
ETS and HS are sub-programs of the Ministry of Health and Social Services.
ETS provides individual counselling to social assistance recipients on training, employment and attaining self-sufficiency.
HS is a job training and wage-subsidy program designed exclusively for social assistance recipients. It began in 1993 as a federal-territorial joint program under the Social Assistance Recipients Agreement and was expanded to accommodate 45 people in 1994-95.
The programs have the following goals:
- reduce the social assistance caseload
- reduce the overall costs of social assistance
- get people off social assistance
- help social assistance recipients find employment
- develop the short-term work skills of program participants
- develop the long-term work skills of program participants
- make employment more attractive financially than social assistance
- reduce the rate at which people leave employment and return to social assistance
- reduce long-term dependence on social assistance
- protect those who are most vulnerable
ETS and HS are the results of government action to increase the employability of social assistance recipients, eliminate waste, detect fraud, recover monies where appropriate and introduce incentives to get recipients off social assistance through increased exemptions.
In the early 1990s, the Yukon saw a dramatic increase in social assistance expenditures. From 1989 to 1992, program expenditures had increased from $2.8 million to $6.4 million ñ an increase of 124%. The projected expenditure for 1992-93 was $9.3 million. The Yukon government mandated a thorough and comprehensive review under the direction of an interdepartmental committee to examine the reasons for these increases and to consider realistic options for cost containment.
The review found labour market and economic trends mirroring those across the country. There were fewer jobs in the goods production sector and more low-paying service-sector jobs. The decline in real wages meant that some people - the working poor - could not earn enough money to meet their needs. Increasing numbers of the working poor needed social assistance to supplement their income. Fewer people were moving out of the territory to seek jobs elsewhere, and more were moving in. Low metal prices were causing a steady decline in the mining industry, with a resulting loss of jobs and revenue in supporting businesses. There was a relative increase in seasonal employment such as tourism. Food and utilities were expensive in the Yukon, and there was a scarcity of rental accommodation, forcing some people to pay more than they could afford for shelter.
The picture is much the same today. Because the Yukon has such a small population, it is sensitive to even minor fluctuations in the employment sector. The closure of even one large firm may increase the need for social assistance, and the loss of one job in mining is directly associated with the loss of 17 jobs in other sectors, as well as general loss of revenue for support services. In 1996ñ97, a major mine closed in the Yukon. Unemployment went up significantly, and social assistance caseloads increased.
In the past few years, Employment Insurance has not been able to meet the financial needs of people during the first months of unemployment because of administrative lags in processing claims and increased waiting periods. These people are seeing social assistance as an interim measure. Social assistance continues to be needed as a wage top-up for insufficient part-time earnings. Seasonal employment opportunities are attracting highly motivated, skilled and educated people from outside the Yukon (there is no evidence that people from outside the territory are displacing Yukon workers.)
Applicants reasons for requiring social assistance closely reflect the economic and employment conditions of the territory. Most report that their need is directly related to a lack of jobs or insufficient employment income. In 1997, 180 people were coming into the social assistance system every month and just 130 were leaving.
ETS and HS were designed and implemented prior to the introduction of the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST). The CHST has not led to any changes to the program.
Labour Market Development Agreement
Status has not changed since Phase 1.
The primary purpose of the programs is to increase recipients employability and thus help them get off social assistance.
The following types of activities are covered by the programs:
- adult basic education/literacy training
- high-school completion
- post-secondary education
- job-readiness training
- job search training
- workplace-based training (on-the-job training)
- paid work experience
ETS delivers employment and training services to social assistance recipients with the objective of increasing employability and thus lead to recipient self-sufficiency.
ETS counsellors are available to review training and educational self-sufficiency plans and provide feedback. The counsellors receive referrals from recipients on a self-referral basis and from officers requesting ETS on behalf of a recipient. An assessment is done and results are made available to the officer. Two existing staff members were redeployed and are now working directly with the social assistance unit as employment and training counsellors.
All new social assistance applicants attend information workshops to familiarize themselves with opportunities to become self-sufficient. In conjunction with their social worker, they must complete a self-sufficiency plan. The department also funds workshops on job-search skills, rÈsumÈ writing and career planning, and plans to expand the workshop list to provide more opportunities for recipients to increase their employability skills.
HS is designed to assist social assistance recipients in gaining access to employment or training opportunities that will enhance their employability. Wage subsidies are given to employers who offer employment or on-the-job training for suitable recipients. Suitable recipients are those who have received assistance for four continuous months or more, who have the ability and desire to work and to keep a job or training position for the duration offered by the employer under this program. The program must reflect the skills and objectives needed to meet the trainees needs and interests. Training objectives vary with each participant. A training outline must be submitted with each application.
The wage subsidy period is a maximum of 20 weeks. Employment is normally 35 hours to a maximum of 40 hour per week. Fewer work hours can be approved by the supervisor under special circumstances. Trainees may be referred to other related programs if short-term training or disability issues apply.
Employers receive a maximum of $7.50 per hour subsidy for employment or on-the-job training. The actual wage is set by the employer. It may exceed $7.50/hour, may not be less than minimum wage or the wage-subsidy amount and should reflect the normal trainee wage paid at the work site. The employer pays Workers Compensation and employer contributions to the Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance, plus vacation pay calculated at 4%.
The employer is not required to hire the trainee at the end of the program, but if the training was successful and a job opening exists, the employer is encouraged to hire the trainee. The program is year-round, but priority is placed on winter months.
Other programs exist that are related to HS:
- Pathways is a similar wage-subsidy program for individuals who have employment- related disabilities. This program is not directed to social assistance recipients.
- Group placements can be arranged under a wage subsidy agreement for larger work projects. These placements are for less than 20 weeks, and a full-time, on-site trainer is required.
- Short-term training (less than 20 weeks) may be accepted for wage subsidy if individuals have most of the skills required by the employer. It is expected that the trainee will qualify for normal employment consideration after the specified short-term training is completed.
- Employers may choose a trainee from among several individuals sent by social services. As the program is voluntary, there are no guarantees that the training position will be filled by individuals that meet the employers criteria.
Two other programs were funded under the Social Assistance Recipients Agreement but have since been discontinued:
- Trades Related Employment Opportunities was a five-week program run by Yukon College. Some graduates from the program were placed into 20-week training programs under HS.
- People Works was a seven-month job readiness/job placement program.
Training and Educational Activities
Training and education are primarily provided at Yukon College. Various high schools and literacy programs focus on upgrading (i.e., getting a high-school diploma or taking trade-specific enrichment). An applicant may receive support to participate in upgrading courses or training programs. This support occurs under the provision that
- the course or program is part of an approved self-sufficiency plan
- the course is of a very short duration
- the course will lead directly to self-sufficiency.
The applicant must also exhaust all other possible financial resources available to them.
Private sector (any private business in operation for at least six months), public sector (e.g., municipalities, First Nations) and non-profit (e.g., day-care centres) employers participate in the employment-based activities for recipients.
Occupations available to participants as part of the HS program include day-care worker, administrative assistant, computer worker, labourer, receptionist, data entry clerk, sales clerk, cook, gardening worker, construction worker and all aspects of the service industry, which predominates in the Yukon.
Job placements may be full-time or short-term (20 weeks). Job-finding assistance includes
- identifying job openings
- marketing participants to employers
- arranging interviews for participants
- offering resume workshops to help participants review their situation and develop a plan for self-sufficiency
The programs include measures to build strong links with local employers to help participants gain employment experience and find jobs. The types of skills the programs aim to develop include job-finding and job-keeping skills, such as how to keep a job for longer, communicating, problem-solving and budgeting. An inventory of employers and the skills they require is provided. A recipient might be sent for a short skills course to qualify them for an available position.
Employers are asked to pay social assistance recipients the same wages paid to other employees. The program aims for more meaningful, better paid jobs and tries to guard against being a pool of low-income workers.
Program Design and Implementation
Responsibility for Design
Yukon Health and Social Services is responsible for program design.
Responsibility for Implementation
Yukon Health and Social Services is primarily responsible for implementing the programs.
Recently, a labour market agreement was signed with the Ministry of Education for a collaborative approach to Employment Insurance.
The government is revisiting its 1992 Training Strategy with particular attention to addressing the training needs of social assistance recipients and enabling them to gain access to advanced education.
Local Flexibility in Program Design and Implementation
There is some local flexibility in program design and implementation. For example, the government has changed its regulations to define a parent as employable when the youngest child reaches the age of two years (rather than six, as it previously stood); however, consideration is given to the availability of employment, education, training opportunities and child care in the community. The department offers special counselling and job-readiness programs for people affected by this change.
Duration of the Program
In their current format, ETS and HS began April 1, 1995, and are ongoing. A precursor to HS began in 1993 as a federal-territorial joint program under the Social Assistance Recipients Agreement.
Participants have to complete the entire program within a specified period. For HS, the period is 20 weeks. There is more flexibility in ETS; it is supposed to be a 90-day period but can be longer if required or desired. Participants can repeat HS and ETS.
Funding and Program Costs
Type and Amount of Financial Assistance for Participants
Financial assistance is provided by Yukon Health and Social Services under the social assistance program.
In HS, wage supplements as described above are provided. A person in HS goes off social assistance if they do not need a top-up.
In ETS, the following assistance is provided:
- training allowances. The department normally covers the cost of tuition, registration, books and related expenses on the provision that they cannot be paid from any other source.
- compensation for job-related expenses. There is no longer an allowance for employment expenses; however, an advance may be made if the applicant qualifies and agrees to repay employment expenses.
- exemption of a portion of employment earnings from benefit reduction. Exempted income includes
- income of up to $50 per month for a single person and up to $100 for families
- beginning in the fourth month on social assistance, 25% of all earned income
- all earned income of a dependent under 19 living at home and attending school full-time
- compensation for child-care expenses
- transitional benefits. Any recipient who has received regular social assistance benefits for a minimum of six consecutive months and who then, due to employment, ceases to be eligible for regular benefits may be entitled to receive transitional benefits for health care services and child care for a further six months. Transitional benefits are paid for only one period of up to six months, are at the same rate as if the person were still receiving regular assistance and are paid only to the extent that the expenses are not covered by any other program.
- transportation subsidies. Allowances may be provided for transportation expenses if required for employment or health reasons at a rate established by the Director. Applicants who are working, looking for work or who have health problems may be eligible for a monthly allowance, the equivalent of a monthly bus pass, to assist them with their transportation needs.
- housing subsidies. These are available to all Yukoners based on their income through Yukon Housing.
- meeting the requirements of the relocation policy
- moving within the territory to confirmed employment
- fleeing an abusive relationship
- supplemental health care. An allowance may be provided for necessary but non- emergency dental work or oral surgery, dentures, eyeglasses and artificial eyes, hearing aids and batteries, family planning devices, items necessary for a person with a disability and other items of personal use approved by the Director and at rates established by the Director.
- dental care. Basic and essential dental service is funded for qualified applicants of social assistance.
Deadlines and Subsidies
Program participants may lose access to supplements or subsidies if program deadlines are not met. If they are not participating according to reasonable expectations, they will receive only emergency aid to cover food, shelter and utilities.
Child support payments received by program participants affect the amount of financial assistance provided to them.
Financial Incentives for Employers
Through HS, employers are offered up to $7.50 per hour or $225 per week to provide work experience or on-the-job training.
Funds have been allocated for ETS and HS as ongoing programs. The funding has been relatively constant. For 1996-97, the HS program cost is $300,000. ETS costs $150,000 for two full-time positions, plus benefits, plus $30,000 for contracts.
Subsidized Child Care
Child-care subsidies are available to program participants under general social assistance.
If the cost of child care is not payable under the Child Care Subsidy Program (CCSP), an allowance may be provided
- for full-time or half-time child care at the same rate as established under the CCSP
- for less-than-half-time child care at the rate of $3 per hour.
Under the Child Care Act and Regulations, the child-care allowance will not be paid for illegal child care.
As a transitional benefit, any recipient who has received regular social assistance benefits for a minimum of six consecutive months and who then, due to employment, ceases to be eligible for regular benefits may be entitled to a child-care subsidy for the six months after they cease to be eligible for regular assistance benefits. This transitional benefit is paid for only one period of up to six months, is at the same rate as if the person were still receiving regular assistance and is paid only to the extent that the expense is not covered by any other program.
The supply of child-care spaces appears sufficient to meet the needs of ETS and HS participants.
ETS and HS primarily target the longer-term unemployed, including people with disabilities. Both programs are voluntary. All recipients considered employable are eligible for ETS.
The ETS program has a caseload of about 30 people, who rotate every 90 days. In addition, ETS offers resume drop-in help and workshops.
The HS program costs $6,000 per participant per year, which means it can handle 50 full-time contracts per year.
The following types of information about participants are gathered:
- education and training history
- employment history
- medical-social history
- child care needs and use
- length of time in receipt of social assistance
Nature of Participation
Although ETS and HS are voluntary, employable social assistance recipients must complete a self-sufficiency plan and show that they are looking for alternative methods of support to continue to be eligible for social assistance. Incentives are built into the programs to encourage social assistance recipients to participate, including training opportunities and work experience. There are no financial incentives.
Employable people who may be eligible for social assistance are expected to seek, accept and keep employment, training or rehabilitation. This policy has the following guidelines:
- Applicants who are considered employable are required to make all necessary efforts to seek self-sufficiency. To accomplish this, they will be required to
- participate in the design of and follow a self-sufficiency plan
- complete a monthly job search
- use the service provided by the Canada Employment Centre (CEC) or other available programs
- if not job-ready, engage in counselling, upgrading, retraining or other program to reach a state of employability
- If an employable applicant
- refuses to take employment without just cause
- is not actively seeking employment
- quits employment or training without just cause
- fails to take advantage of opportunities to make himself or herself job-ready
- then he or she will be considered eligible for emergency social assistance only (i.e., food and shelter).
- The decision to reduce benefits to applicants who have not availed themselves of every opportunity to become self-sufficient will be made by the supervisor upon reviewing the recommendation of the officer.
- Such applicants will be given written notice that their social assistance for the next period will be reduced, the reason for the decision and their right to appeal
- Applicants who have had their benefits reduced under this policy will be eligible for the resumption of regular benefits upon demonstrating that they have taken all necessary steps to become self-sufficient.
Under some circumstances, participants can leave the HS program and not be penalized. These include
- lack of child care
- a communication or other breakdown that makes it unsuitable for the recipient to continue in a placement
- family responsibilities
- other circumstances beyond the control of the recipient.
Orientation and Follow-up
All new social assistance applicants attend ETS information workshops to familiarize themselves with opportunities to become self-sufficient. In conjunction with their social worker, applicants complete a self-sufficiency plan.
An appeals process has been established for both programs.
social assistance applicant or recipient can appeal any departmental decision on eligibility or level of assistance. All recipients are informed about the existence of the appeals process, and a pamphlet is available.
Applicants are entitled to appeal an officers decision to the Appeal Committee; however, from a practical point of view, an officers supervisor may be able to provide information about a decision such that a formal written appeal is not necessary. Therefore, appeals are normally heard informally by the supervisor in charge of the officer who made the decision.
If a formal appeal is made,
- All appeals must be heard in a timely fashion, no later than 30 days after being filed.
- The merit of an appeal will be adjudicated based on the relevant sections of the Social Assistance Act, Regulations and Policies.
- If the Appeal Committee upholds an appeal, they will direct the department to comply with the relevant section or sections of the Act, Regulations or Policies.
- The Committee is restricted in its decisions to ensuring that the Act, Regulations and Policies have been applied fairly and correctly.
- The Appeal Committee is made up of a chairperson and one other member.
The Employment Base
Program Design Considerations
The following territorial economic conditions were taken into account in designing these territory-wide programs:
- predominant economic activities
- current shifts in economic activities. Economic restructuring (e.g., the weakening of the mining industry) before the implementation of the program was considered in the design.
- employment trends
- unemployment rates of different geographic areas. For example, the massive layoffs and plant closures before the implementation of the programs were considered.
- social assistance rates of different geographic areas
Other initiatives were used to inform the design of this program. The 1993 report on social assistance includes many references to other programs in Canada, including an appendix that summarizes Ontarios and Prince Edward Islands reviews of social assistance. A national evaluation of employability programs under the Social Assistance Recipients Agreement showed the wage subsidy to be the most successful strategy for reducing the social assistance caseload, which is why the Yukon chose that strategy.
Employment Equity, Targetting and Displacement
No attempt was made to design programs specifically for women, as the view was that all social assistance recipients tend to end up in low-paying jobs. The programs aim for more meaningful, better paid jobs for all social assistance recipients.
The program was designed to ensure that participants not displace workers already holding paid jobs in the local economy. If the job is advertised, it will not be subsidized. The position in line for the subsidy must be in addition to the normal contingent of workers and there must be no decrease in the hours of regular workers.
Employers who use program participants as a source of cheap labour, thereby displacing regular workers, are no longer eligible for job placement or subsidies.
Training, employment programs and income support services have not been integrated by various levels of government and departments to provide single-window access.
The programs attempt to meet the individual needs of people from different backgrounds through a self-sufficiency plan based on the individuals needs and interests. HS tries to ensure that job training is in an area that is interesting and meaningful to the recipient.
The needs of aboriginal people are primarily met by Indian and Northern Affairs.
Of the 800 people on social assistance in the Yukon, about 125 are single parents, and most of these are women. About half the recipients are single, employable men and women. The most motivated participants are usually the single parents, who are often in upgrading or taking short-term training. The Ministry of Health and Social Services works closely with single parents, who are perceived as a most demanding recipient group although they are only 16% of the caseload.
People from different ethnocultural backgrounds do not tend to stay on social assistance very long; they appear to be very motivated to find work.
Pathways is an employability program targeted to people with disabilities, who may or may not be social assistance recipients.
Only a very small percentage of social assistance recipients are under 19 years of age.
The Yukon Bureau of Statistics is just starting an evaluation of HS. The Bureau will look at all the past and current participants of HS, including those who have left the Yukon. The study will look at the participants before and after HS and compare them with control groups. Forty-five thousand dollars has been set aside for the evaluation of HS.
ETS has ongoing self-evaluations that result in changes to improve the program and the services offered.
Data are being collected to track the following outcomes:
- the number of participants who leave social assistance
- the proportion of participants who leave social assistance
- the extent to which participants who leave social assistance for employment return to welfare
ETS workers note the progress made by recipients in following through on their self-sufficiency plans, undertaking various activities and the making subsequent evaluations.
There has been no attempt to measure delayed welfare exits, that is, later-than-expected exits from the social assistance system that may result from individuals extending their period of welfare receipt in order to qualify for a program.
NAME: Mike McCann TITLE: Director, Social Services
Yukon Health and Social Services
TELEPHONE: (403) 667-5700 FAX: (403) 667-5819