Securing a Sustainable Future
Mr. Speaker, we are determined to work with the people of this province in taking all the steps required to secure a sustainable future for Newfoundland and Labrador.
Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are among the most industrious people in the country. The same enterprising attitude that enabled our own communities to endure for hundreds of years has helped to build economic miracles across Canada in places like Toronto, Cambridge, Fort McMurray and far beyond. Now we need people with that same enterprising attitude to help us build an economic miracle here at home. We are issuing a clarion call to local residents young and old, to our expatriates and to immigrants from far and wide to join with us as we prepare to step up to a new plateau of economic activity.
Already, major successes in our energy sector, our mining sector and many others have helped to usher in a period of inspiring economic growth. But that is only a foretaste of the opportunities awaiting Newfoundland and Labrador. Our government recognized early on that we would need to be prepared to make the most of these magnificent prospects. In addition to commissioning strategic plans in sectors promising growth, we commissioned a Skills Task Force to begin the process of ensuring Newfoundland and Labrador would be ready with the skilled people needed to do the work. The Skills Task Force reported last year and we have already moved forward to implement the Action Plan.
This year, we are stepping up our level of preparedness by launching a broad spectrum of initiatives that will be known collectively as Opportunities Newfoundland and Labrador. With an investment of $5.3 million, Opportunities Newfoundland and Labrador will focus on connecting employers seeking workers with the people they need to get the job done. To explain how it will work, let me describe some of the needs it will address.
Our students and job seekers need reliable information about the career paths that will enable them to build a secure future in our province.
Expatriates, immigrants and other prospective job recruits need reliable information about the changing labour market conditions in Newfoundland and Labrador and the many benefits of working and living here.
Employers need reliable information about the supports available to help them recruit and retain the workers they require.
The government needs reliable information about the factors that influence the decisions people make on what to study, where to work and where to live so we can adjust our approach to recruitment and retention accordingly.
People with disabilities and others often marginalized in our society sometimes need special assistance to get into the work force.
Through Opportunities Newfoundland and Labrador, we will address all of those needs in ways that will bring the benefits of growth to people and communities throughout our province.
The free flow of reliable information is essential to the success of our approach. Through Opportunities Newfoundland and Labrador, we will inform high school students, post-secondary students, job seekers, marginalized groups and workers both inside and outside our province about existing and emerging employment opportunities, training and career supports, and the many benefits of working in Newfoundland and Labrador.
It is critical that we spark the fires of engagement among our province’s young people. To that end, we are investing approximately $1 million to retain expertise to undertake a major project to engage young people in this province in decisions on their future. We will implement a
Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy to develop and apply innovative approaches to encourage our young people to stay in our province. This government is strengthening the capacity of our communities to forge meaningful solutions that advance the interests of young people. To complement the Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy, we are providing a total annual investment of $2.6 million to the Community Youth Network to support the delivery of vital youth leadership, learning and social development programs in the province.
We will strengthen our capacity to develop and disseminate
labour market information that stakeholders in the public, private and academic sectors require to better identify and meet their human resources needs. We will enhance our capacity to forecast future labour demands and to monitor graduate outcomes, recruitment and retention challenges, employment activity and worker mobility.
Having seen how other jurisdictions recruit workers here in this province, we are stepping up with recruitment initiatives of our own. We will collaborate with our province’s employers in hosting regular
job fairs throughout our province and beyond.
We will also sponsor recruitment sessions in our
Career / Work Centres which will enable local employers to share information about opportunities in their businesses, to accept job applications and even to conduct job interviews on the spot. Last year, we invested a million dollars to establish six Career / Work Centres throughout the province. This year, we will more than double that investment to establish six additional centres in new areas.
Information technology gives us powerful new tools to match people seeking work with employers seeking workers. We will proceed to develop an online
International Registry to help Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, expatriates and others throughout Canada and the world identify local job opportunities while, at the same time, enabling employers to access the employees they need. People will be able to submit information about their skills, work experience and job preferences to a database that employers will be able to access when they are ready to hire.
There are some in our province who want to work but need help surmounting barriers. Recognizing these challenges, our government is establishing a
Division of Disabilities to identify initiatives we can take to help people overcome the barriers they face, including barriers to working.
We will promote greater labour market participation for persons with disabilities by enhancing the
Training Service Program to meet the higher demand for post-secondary education, and provide more job trainers under the
Supported Employment Program. We will also enhance employment programs by strengthening partnerships with groups that provide services to persons with disabilities as well as to youth and other individuals who often have difficulty making labour force attachments.
We are also increasing our commitment to the
Opening Doors Program which provides employment opportunities in government departments and agencies to persons with disabilities. Through an additional annual investment of $340,000, we will provide meaningful employment opportunities for an additional eight individuals.
We will work to attract more immigrants to our province as we continue to implement our
Immigration Strategy, and we will work to promote a greater appreciation of the many benefits immigration brings to Newfoundland and Labrador by implementing a Multiculturalism Policy to celebrate diversity and promote harmonious relations among all cultures.
We will support the promotion of the French language and Francophone culture in the province, forging ties between Newfoundland and Labrador and Québec, in order to promote the development and vitality of French-speaking communities –
the Francophonie. The recently-signed agreement with the province of Québec sets the foundation for cooperation and exchange in a variety of sectors: education, culture, youth, French language, economy, communications, health, early childhood, justice, status of women and immigration.
Aboriginal people in Canada have raised their own concerns about labour market participation and unemployment rates that are generally higher within Aboriginal communities than among non-Aboriginal Canadians. In consultation with Aboriginal people in this province, our government has acknowledged the need to develop culturally-relevant curriculum that will more effectively engage Aboriginal students. This year, we will create a new
Aboriginal Literacy Development Consultant position dedicated to this task. This consultant will be situated in Labrador and will work closely with members of Aboriginal communities to develop curriculum that reflects Aboriginal cultures and Adult Basic Education programs to better address the literacy challenges in Aboriginal communities.
We want to ensure all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are equipped to seize the opportunities before us. We have an obligation to work together, not only to ensure employers can find the people they need to work, but also to ensure our people can take advantage of opportunities that will improve their own individual circumstances.
Our government has worked strategically to build fiscal strength, improve economic opportunity, promote economic and social inclusion and protect our cultural heritage. A common thread to achieving these goals is reversing the trend of population decline.
Family-focused policies are an integral element of rebuilding our population. Among the Blueprint commitments to nurture family growth is a plan to provide a payment of $1,000 for each child born or adopted plus a supplement of $100 per month in relation to parental support. We have provided $12.4 million in Budget 2008 to deliver on this commitment.