You could call it a need to learn to read between the lines. Or, you could call it deliberate miscommunication. Whatever you call it, as the provincial government continues with its cost-cutting efforts, when announcing layoffs it should just rip the Band-Aid off and be as clear and transparent as possible.
Here Friday’s news release about a major change in government policy regarding skills training.
“As of June 1, employment assistance services for EI-
eligible clients currently run by most third-party service providers will be delivered through the Department of Advanced Education and Skills. This change in service delivery will mean a re-investment of approximately $14 million annually for programs and services to help people secure long-term employment. The transition will also help provide a flexible and easily accessible ‘one-stop’ system for clients.
“‘Part of establishing the Department of Advanced Education and Skills involved looking at operations and services offered throughout Newfoundland and Labrador,’ said the Honourable Joan Shea, minister of Advanced Education and Skills. ‘We have heard feedback from clients, staff and the public which indicate there are a number of ongoing challenges with employment programs. We need to avoid duplication and inconsistencies and streamline our process to address these concerns and provide better, less-complicated service delivery to help clients find employment.’
“Currently, for example, most EI-eligible clients have to work with both a third-party service provider and an Advanced Education and Skills office to attain the services needed to help them find employment. The Department of Advanced Education and Skills currently has an established network of Career Work Centres that serve both non-EI and EI-eligible clients across Newfoundland and Labrador.
“To begin the process of implementing a new delivery model, third-party providers who offer employment assistance services are being given a three-month extension, until June 30, to conclude services currently being provided to clients. This change will help the department serve additional clients and increase capacity to deliver quality employment and training programs and services for people throughout the province.
“Meanwhile, one-year contract extensions for employment assistance services will be given to groups who provide self-employment, supportive employment for persons with disabilities, and support for women working in non-traditional sectors. During this period, the Department of Advanced Education and Skills will be working with these groups to identify opportunities to improve employment services and supports. Further details of the transition process will be announced in the coming weeks.
“‘We value and support our community partners and thank them for the work they have done in providing employment assistance services,’ said Minister Shea. ‘Our government will continue to work with these groups to help achieve our common goals. This decision is not about investing less in services, it is about redirecting money for more effective client services that will ultimately help improve employment opportunities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.’”
What you don’t see anywhere in the release is the fact that as many as 260 community-based rural jobs, many of them held by women, will simply disappear. Read the release again: do you see a mention of job cuts?
The irony is, the provincial government may be about to suffer the same lack of consultation from its federal cousins. Word is that those same EI assistance jobs are to be hauled back to federal civil servants in the next federal budget. Hopefully, the federal news release will be a little clearer.