The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Human Resources Committee - Committee Room 1 (1674)

HANSARD

 

NOVA SCOTIA HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

 

COMMITTEE

 

ON

 

HUMAN RESOURCES

 

 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

 

 

LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEES OFFICE

 

 

 

 

Collaborative Partnership Network,

Appointments to Agencies, Boards and Commissions &

Agenda Setting

 

 

 

Printed and Published by Nova Scotia Hansard Reporting Services


 

 

 

 

STANDING COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RESOURCES

 

 

Mr. Bill Horne (Chairman)

Ms. Joyce Treen

Mr. Ben Jessome

Ms. Margaret Miller

Mr. Iain Rankin

Mr. Eddie Orrell

Ms. Karla MacFarlane

Hon. Maureen MacDonald

Hon. Denise Peterson-Rafuse

 

In Attendance:

 

Ms. Kim Langille

Legislative Committee Clerk

 

Ms. Annette Boucher

Legislative Counsel

 

 

WITNESSES

 

Collaborative Partnership Network

 

Ms. Janice Ainsworth

Co-Chair

 

Ms. Jane Orrell

Co-Chair

 

Ms. Margaret Matthews

Treasurer

 

Mr. Marcus Jamieson

Operations and Systems Manager

TEAM Work Cooperative

 

 

 

 


 

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, JUNE 23, 2015

 

STANDING COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RESOURCES

 

9:00 A.M.

 

CHAIRMAN

 

Mr. Bill Horne

 

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Good morning everyone, I’d like to have our meeting come to order. This is the Human Resources Committee of the Legislature. My name is Bill Horne, I’m the chairman.

 

            I’d like to ask everyone else to introduce themselves.

 

            [The committee members introduced themselves.]

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. We are also going to do a review of appointments to the ABCs and we’ll be receiving a presentation regarding the Collaborative Partnership Network today. Thank you for coming, and maybe you could introduce yourselves and start your presentation.

 

            [The committee witnesses introduced themselves.]

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Just before we continue, make sure everybody has their phones off or on vibrate. Washrooms are down the hall, to the left, to the right - I think you’ll find them. When you’re ready, maybe if we could make sure you address the Chair, whoever is going to speak on an issue when you’re talking. We’ll start with you, Ms. Ainsworth.

 

            MS. JANICE AINSWORTH: Today we’re here to talk about the Collaborative Partnership Network which is a group of nine specialized agencies across the province. It’s a group that was formed in 2001 and largely it was about dedicated services for people with disabilities, because at the time employment rates - and they still are very low for people with disabilities - something needed to change. The government at the time decided this would be a good approach, to have dedicated services and really focus on what the needs are for people with disabilities who are looking for employment; so nine agencies across the province.

 

            We work with people with all different disabilities. In our offices you would see people coming in, you would often find that we would have interpreters for some of our clients. We have clients who have visual disabilities, mobility disabilities, learning disabilities, people who are on the autism spectrum, any other mental illness, and cognitive and intellectual disabilities - so the full range of people with different disabilities.

 

            What we find in common is that all the people who come to see us are very keenly interested in finding employment but what is unique is that there are some barriers. Those barriers often look like - not their disability necessarily, they have skills and abilities, and they may need some time to come and get ready for employment, but there are often barriers in our societal environment that make assumptions about different abilities.

 

            Our collective job is to secure and maintain employment, not just find the employment and not support people on the job. For 18 years - 20, actually - some of our agencies have been around for 20 years so we have a lot of collective expertise. When we first began there really wasn’t a road map and we had to sort out a lot of things and find out how to adopt the best practices that work for people and a lot of learning. We now have models that are very effective and work exclusively with people with disabilities.

 

            This is our beautiful map of Nova Scotia. We cover most of the province, with the exception of the Truro area and the Pictou-New Glasgow area. In 1997, I referred to the focus groups that were done with people with disabilities and that’s how these agencies came to be. Then there was a document written in 1997 about a full wraparound service that would be effective for people with disabilities. We are, and to use the term in the new accessibility legislation that’s coming into being, under the progressive realization that we adopted many of the things that were put forward in this model in 1997, so over time we have been able to create some of these things that make it work for employment.

 

            One of the things that as a group we added was the Employment Maintenance Worker Program. That was something we knew was missing. We were all very skilled at helping and assisting people get the job, we have hundreds of relationships with employers, we could get the job, but once on the job we noticed this support was missing because a lot of people on the job need constant, for a while, and then we eventually phase out but they may need some one-on-one attention, job coaching type of support, and the employers need support while they are on the job. We’re going to talk about that a little bit more but that came in in 2008 and has been here ever since.

 

            Now what we find is when people become employed, they stay employed. So it’s about not just finding the job but it’s really important that we just don’t rush to get the job and then say okay, we’re done here, and then have people return and return. It’s very demoralizing to have that happen after they worked so hard to get that first job.

 

            We also developed a specialized service delivery model that takes people through different pathways before becoming employed and then after. Marcus is going to talk a little bit more about that so I won’t go into that.

 

            We work with employers in about three different ways, I’ll say; there’s the individual relationship building where we go out and do job development and see if there’s an interest in hiring people with disabilities. Then we also work with employers on a more public education forum which is our Ability Starts Here symposium that we host each and every year. It’s a two-day conference in conjunction with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3rd. That has been very successful, we’re in our eighth year. We feel that’s an important component just to keep that awareness alive. We’ll have employers talk about their experience to other employers, and that makes a huge difference to engage new employers to hire.

 

            The other thing we have accomplished over the years is the Accommodations Coordinator which so far exists in Sydney but it’s a great model that we’d all like to share. Jane will talk about that a little later.

 

            Provincial funding; because we incorporated at a certain point - we’re an incorporated board, a non-profit - we were able to attract specific sets of funding from some of our funding organizations that really help our clients gain work-essential skills. That was another really great result of coming together in this collective way.

 

            Since we’ve been working together - since 1997 - about 1,000 jobs are created each and every year that the Collaborative Partnership Network remains in existence.

 

We like this visual because it’s probably when our clients, who have disabilities, come to us. It pretty much looks like what they’re facing in terms of navigating the number of systems that may be out there that can assist. We try to turn that into something that’s a little more manageable for people, so the case manager in the middle helps sort out some of the logistics behind the scenes of what they need to do to either access funding - it could be for accommodation, it could for skills training, or it could be through Employment Nova Scotia for longer-term skills training. So it gets quite complicated. Often in our agencies we help people sometimes access their CPPD. The form management - just around the process of going about that - is quite intense, I’ll say.

 

            Some of the success we’ve had over the years - because we’re a Career Nova Scotia group of centres across the province, a lot of our reporting is based on: how successful are you and what are your outcomes? We’re happy to report that for every person who comes in and starts to develop a plan with us, 50 per cent of those people will become successful and find employment. Now it would be in varying amounts of time that they might spend with us, doing specialized workshops or different skills training programs, it could be any number of, what we call, “interventions” that eventually lead to employment.

 

            For each year we find those 1,000 jobs we estimate that that would be $20 million going back into the economy in terms of wages earned. So for every person, as well, there’s $10 million that’s likely saved on government systems because often when people do come to us they are on income assistance, they could be on EI, or they could be on CPPD. The goal is to either come away from those systems or have an incremental plan where they might work enough to earn whatever the allowable amount is under CPP or - not EI so much, but under DCS income assistance. The wages people earn would definitely take them out of the poverty level.

 

            Some of the other spinoffs that we’re noticing after this many years of working with our employers and our people with disabilities - we have high-demand industries that contact us on a regular basis, looking for skilled labour. It’s pretty much an automatic now; we get job postings from a whole variety of industry sectors on a constant basis to see if we have any people who can fill those jobs. That’s quite a shift from the early days.

 

            Now, of course, with the Nova Scotia demographics being what they are, we have a higher senior population and a higher disability population - 20 per cent of our population is people with disabilities. It seems the time now to invest more than ever in these types of programs that ensure that people get jobs.

 

            The disability reality, which I mentioned, is one in five. We often think it’s a lot higher than that and it would be more anecdotal at this point because we do notice that a high number of youth who come to our agencies report having a mental illness, often, I would say very commonly, in the form of stress and anxiety. It seems very much on the rise.

 

            We have two decades of developing programs and we seem to have this momentum where we’ve achieved this level of each and every year, year after year, 50 per cent success rate which we think is pretty extraordinary.

 

            We have this group that we work with - we work with a lot of community-based individuals who volunteer their time on our boards. There’s 92 staff who work in these nine agencies, approximately 200 board members. We collectively report each year, as a group of nine agencies, our successes each year. Last year we saw 748 skills development training that completed successfully. We also had 4,000 reports of employment maintenance, so people intervening on the job; and employed last year was 907 and served in Nova Scotia, so 2,700 people do come to our services across the province.

 

            Employer contacts, we always document how many times we reach out to different employers, so 4,444 - you can’t make that number up, can you? Last year, based on the 907 who became employed, $9.8 million savings to government programs, $18.1 million in wages earned and that’s a number that comes from the PALS 2006, 135,000 Nova Scotians who are persons with disabilities. We all know that we probably all have friends and family who have joined this population unexpectedly, for any number of reasons.

 

            The return on investment is $27.9 million, if you combine the two, in wages with the savings to government programs. Our operating budget collectively is $4.6 million so we estimate a cost of $5,161 for every employed person with a disability.

 

            Now I’ll hand it over to Marcus to talk about - no, I’m going to hand it over to Jane.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Jane, go ahead.

 

            MS. JANE ORRELL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman; thank you, Janice. I’m just going to talk for a few minutes and then hand it over to Marcus, about the disability management assessment, and planning and accommodation assessment and planning. That’s really what makes our service unique.

 

As Janice mentioned, we’re nine of the Careers Nova Scotia Centres across the province, and in some ways we do things very much the same but there is some pretty significant uniqueness in the service we provide. We are not just looking at carrying out an ordinary type of assessment to determine what barriers are preventing people from accessing the labour market or staying in the labour market; we are first and foremost looking at the disability management piece. So if there’s going to be an investment that is made by government in attempting to attach the person to the labour market, we want to make sure that investment is well protected in the end.

 

            We want to know whether the person’s disability is managed to the point that they are employment ready. It is extremely important for a number of reasons; as I said, it’s to protect the investment, to protect the individual, and to protect our relationship with the employer we have. Many of us are located in rural communities where there are only a certain number of employers. It takes a great deal of work to develop and establish the relationships with these companies and we can’t afford to take the risk of placing somebody when they’re really not ready.

 

            That disability management assessment is carried out by certified practitioners so they’re not just career practitioners, they have experience and expertise and education in the area of disability management assessment and planning. That’s one of the very unique things you’ll see in our centres, compared to a mainstream career resource centre. Then we have the accommodation assessment and planning, so if we’re looking at - I’ll just give you an example.

 

If we’re looking at investing in a skill development intervention and an individual has had a psycho-educational assessment that has identified a particular type of learning disability, you could have 10 people with the same type of learning disability and they may utilize 10 different types of assistive technology, software, or hardware. No two people are going to use the same thing because it really depends upon their interest in the technology, their skills with technology, and a number of other factors that will play a role in determining what they are best suited to.

 

            Now unfortunately this accommodation assessment and planning is not available throughout the province, it is only available in Sydney. We’ve had that service available since the closure in 2003, I believe it was, of an adaptive technology centre that was located in the region. Our agency took on the service by just taking on one employee. We have offered some support in the Port Hawkesbury region when and where there’s an assessment required. It is critical in terms of the investment because if a person is identified as in need of this type of technology or supports, the likelihood of being successful in the invested intervention is diminished by not having the appropriate accommodations in place.

 

            It certainly is a gap right now in some parts of the province that I hope we can see closed at some point. I’ll close with that, Mr. Chairman.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Mr. Jamieson, are you ready to present?

 

            MR. MARCUS JAMIESON: Thank you, Jane; thank you, Mr. Chairman. As Janice mentioned, this program came on in 2008. Before then we really didn’t have the kind of wraparound service that we do now, we were really missing an important piece. A client would put in all kinds of work and we would work with them and they would become employed. Then they would go off and do their job and something may happen and they would lose the job or there would be a crisis and they would come back and we wouldn’t know what happened. We would be missing kind of an important piece there. The clients were not getting the support they needed and the employer wasn’t getting the support that was needed.

 

            This program is really able to provide a high level of support for both persons with disabilities who become employed and also for the employers who need that kind of education and awareness and support.

 

            There are four important components to this Employment Maintenance Program: one-on-one transition; employer/manager education strategy planning; employment crisis; and employment maintenance follow-up. I’m going to go through each of them in a little more detail.

 

            The first is one-on-one transition. This is to provide extra support and training to identify any challenges that relate to the disability the person might have going into a new job. This is a really important period. When someone takes a new job, of course, anxiety is going to be high, you’re going to be nervous. A lot of our individuals haven’t worked in a long time so this transition into a new job means a lot and there’s a fair amount of work and assessment that needs to be done to make sure that transition is smooth.

 

            We go in and we ensure that the client and the employer have the strategies so the person can do the job independently. When we first go into the workplace we’ll ask certain questions to ourselves: if someone has a physical disability, is the furniture sufficiently moved around so the person can move around in the office space? What is the noise level? Someone who is on the autism spectrum may be sensitive to noise, so is that something that could be an issue? Does the individual have the predictability and consistency in their scheduling in the work task that they’re able to follow? These are the types of questions we would ask going into a new job with a client.

 

            We can ask these questions to the employer. They’re maybe not typical questions that they would think of, that we can kind of bring out and flush that out in the beginning, to prevent any kind of crisis down the road.

 

            We make sure there’s lots of training time so we can be right there with the client when they first start to go through that training period so that we’re learning the job, as well, so we can provide as much support as possible to the client and the employer so the employer doesn’t have to put in too much extra time, that we can provide that kind of natural support.

 

            A good example of this transition time. We had a client who started at the National Research Council a few years ago, he had Asperger’s. He was going through his training on the first day and it was all going very well. The employer thought it was really important to offer a lot of choices to this individual. With persons on the autism spectrum, sometimes you need to be very direct - do A, B, and C. She was saying you can do A or you can do B or you can do C. The Employment Maintenance worker who was with him could see in his eyes that he was getting confused and his anxiety was going up, you could physically see it.

 

            The employer, who has never worked with someone who is on the autism spectrum didn’t pick this up so we took her aside and said, you can just tell him to do A and then do B and then do C. She went back and did that, and you could see the anxiety and the stress just physically go away in that moment. She came back to us and said gee, can I do that with all my employees, just tell them exactly what to do? Well, if you hire more people with autism, you can go right ahead. That transition time is really important to get everything started on the right foot.

 

            The education and strategy planning with an employer - this is really important for the success to get things off to a good start, as well, to ensure that the employer is disability confident when they bring somebody on. We’ll often suggest that we go in before the person even starts and do an education and planning with the employer and with as many staff as possible. We’ve done some where just the immediate supervisor is working with our client or we’ve done some where it has been 40 or 50 staff who come to this and we can go over the best practices for the person that kind of maximizes their strengths. This really leads to a confident employer and colleagues and co-workers when they first start.

 

            It also helps to prevent crises down the road, people are kind of aware of what to expect, and prevents stigma from co-workers and that the co-workers feel confident with who they’re going to be working. Often if some person is starting and they have an intellectual disability, or any kind of disability, people that they may be working with may have kind of a preconceived notion of what that means and it may not be that accurate. We’re all individuals, so we try to flush all that out in the beginning so that everyone is kind of aware of that person’s disability.

 

            We provide disability-specific training, so if someone is going in and they have Asperger’s or if they have an anxiety disorder or vision impairment, we’ll go in and do specific training around that disability and provide any kind of best practices. A good example of this is, we had a client who was working at an ink cartridge place. We went in and did a full disability awareness session around autism; that was when we had about 40 or 50 staff, everyone was there. The person started and it was going very well, but I think after about two or three weeks into it he had said something or repeated something he had heard on YouTube that wasn’t all that appropriate for the workplace. It may have been funny watching it on YouTube, but in the workplace it wasn’t quite appropriate. It was something that normally could lead to someone being let go.

 

            We got a call and we went in. It was really cool because when we walked in, they were telling us that yes, we know with someone with autism that sometimes there are some social or communication challenges and this may happen. So they were already in the planning stage of how to deal with it and we were just there to kind of foster that and move that along. That all happened because of the education and strategy planning that we had in place.

 

            The employment crisis - this is a really important component of the Employment Maintenance Program. It does happen from time to time, we have a crisis at a workplace and we really want to make sure that the person doesn’t lose their job. Once you lose your job, getting reattached to the labour force is very difficult. It’s always a long road back to employment, especially for persons with disabilities, but it’s also one of our most challenging. When someone is coming to us in crisis we’re not always sure what we’re walking into, we don’t know how far it has gone along. There’s a lot of investigation, a lot of work that needs to be done to figure the situation out.

 

            We provide a really quick and effective response so often if we get a call that there is a crisis, we move as fast as we can. The Employment Maintenance workers are not on call but they move very fast. We had a call a few months ago from somebody who wasn’t a client of ours but they were going into a meeting with an employer and they were really worried that they were going to be let go and there were some challenges around their disability, so we were able to get our Employment Maintenance worker to meet up with that person prior and then go to the meeting with them. We can move pretty fast, which is important.

 

            We develop a comprehensive plan for the client and the employer to follow. Some of the strategies that we would use in situations like this could be role playing to help out. We use common technology, like our cellphones and computers. We developed best practices, lists, and cues. These are all very simple kinds of strategies but they are very effective.

 

            We had an individual working at one of our disability-confident employers and he was a recent immigrant who had a cognitive disability. It was a very blue-collar environment and he made kind of an inappropriate joke, trying to fit in. It was very important for him to try to fit in. We got a call and he was going to be fired, he was going to be let go by the end of the week.

 

            The Employment Maintenance worker who knew this employer and knew the person very well, moved very fast and went in and explained how this person didn’t understand the kind of subtle social intricacies that go into communicating and socializing, kind of the who, where, when. We were able to sit down with the employer and have this conversation with him. We were able to develop a plan that included an employer awareness session so we were able to sit down with the staff and kind of go over, you know, this person’s disability and why this might happen.

 

            We developed kind of direct work with the client in the workplace, to develop better boundaries and an understanding of what is appropriate and what is not. We also did some role-playing with him after-hours. So with this agreement, with this plan, the employer agreed to keep him on. That was last year and he is still there to this day.

 

            There is supposed to be a slide that kind of shows the flow of employment crises because they are (Interruption) Oh, it’s on the end, sorry. My sheet is messed up.

 

            The follow-up piece. This is after everything is kind of set up and the plan is in place and we’re starting to transition and phase out of the support but we still need to be involved to make sure everything is going well. Again, it’s very important, the phasing out. We usually try to install some kind of natural supports. We’re there as an intervention to provide support but ideally there would be some natural support with any workplace, like we all have. We all have our mentors and buddies and people who we go to. It is no different for someone with a disability so we would try to establish that and kind of identify who can be a natural support.

 

            We’ll often do our check-ins. Check-ins could be once a week, then once every two weeks, once a month, once every two months. We’re just slowly phasing our way out at the pace that the employer is comfortable and that the client is comfortable.

 

            We had an individual who the phase-out time took a while. He hadn’t worked in a very long time and when he did work, he never made it past two months, he had severe, severe anxiety. We were able to get him into a job that he was very comfortable with but it took a while to provide that natural support and begin that phase-out.

 

            The phase-out started at multiple check-ins a week, it was twice a week, then it was once a week and then it was once a month. We found that throughout this process there was still a high level of anxiety so what we did was we used our cellphones - our client had a cellphone and our Employment Maintenance worker had a cellphone - they set up a texting process where if he needed to vent or say something, he would say it and he would use hash tags to tell the Employment Maintenance worker what he was saying. So the hash tags were: vent, question, and help.

 

If it was “vent,” he was just venting, he had an anxiety about something or was upset about something. But it was nothing that the Employment Maintenance worker had to do; he was just unloading. Kind of like when I used to work with youth, we used to always say, put your problem in a cookie jar and we’ll deal with it later, it was kind of like that, just with the hash tag. If it was “question,” it was just a question that needed to be answered; if it was “help,” that meant he had to go over right away.

 

            They did this hash tag texting thing for quite some time and it was very successful. Then slowly, as time went on, it became less and less. This is an individual who never made it past the two-month mark, and now he’s working on his 18th month.

 

            This is the job carving and job matching. This is an important piece that a lot of the Employment Maintenance workers provide. While they’re in the workplace there are opportunities for jobs there that maybe an employer wouldn’t necessarily see. So job matching is typical job development, where you’re looking for jobs that already exist, that an employer is hiring, that you might see online or that an employer comes to you. Job carving is a little bit unique where it’s a job that maybe doesn’t necessarily exist but an employer has a need that we can fill with very specific skills of one of our clients.

 

            One of our Employment Maintenance workers had a client who was working at a retail store, who had a special interest in putting up the displays. He was very good at doing the displays and he really enjoyed it, and it was a task that a lot of other people didn’t want to do. So we carved that out for this person to do just that one job, so it really maximizes the strengths of someone with a disability and kind of minimizes the challenges they might have.

 

            This is the employment crisis stream that a client may go through when they come to our service. This kind of explains how complicated it can get. This is just for someone who comes to our service in a crisis, it isn’t someone already in our service who is in crisis. It’s complicated because we have to find out what the challenges are from a client’s perspective and what the challenges are from an employer perspective; it’s always two sides. So we have to go in and meet with a client and figure out what the issues are from their perspective, and then the same thing with the employer.

 

Then we have to figure out what our role is in all that. Is it disability-related? If it is disability-related then yes, we do have a role; if it’s not disability-related that’s when maybe we’ll have to find somebody else to provide that support. This is one of our more complicated situations but it’s also one of our most important.

 

That’s good for me.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Very good, thank you very much. Before we go any further, I’ll ask Ms. Peterson-Rafuse and Ms. Miller to introduce themselves.

 

            [The committee members introduced themselves.]

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. I guess we’re open for questions. Ms. MacFarlane.

 

            MS. KARLA MACFARLANE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you so much for your presentation. I believe that CPN is a very worthy tool that many of us access here in the province, and you certainly have built a great organization.

 

            My concern lies around funding, though. As we know, I think your organization is becoming more and more in demand - as you pointed out, one in five, but I think that number is actually higher. I’m just curious if there have been any discussions with the current government with regard to funding, especially beyond 2018.

 

            MS. AINSWORTH: Yes, there has been a lot of discussion of late. Our Employment Nova Scotia is the funding body that funds the Careers Nova Scotia Centres and there has been a lot of discussion about making some changes, referring to a transformative phase, and that is happening over the next year.

 

The discussions we’ve had so far where we’ve had quite a few collective forums with all the Careers Nova Scotia Centres’ managers, as well as Employment Nova Scotia team, they’ve communicated that they’re looking at making some changes to the numbers of Careers Nova Scotia Centres that are around the province which right now are about 52. There has been some discussion about switching to 15 so that will be quite a reduction, so there is a lot of discussion about it.

 

There will be a focus on specialized service but at this time we don’t know what that will look like, whether our service will look as it does now, whether there will be a blending of services. So there’s quite a lot of change in the air.

 

            MS. MACFARLANE: So just to reaffirm here, 52, potentially down to 15. A lot of details not worked out but given that, how many job losses would be within that cut?

 

            MS. AINSWORTH: From what we understand from speaking with ENS, perhaps not that many, certainly in the career development practitioner front line, not very likely. They may be looking at some reduction in the administrative costs, so some of the management costs, there might be some reduction there.

 

            MS. MACFARLANE: Just one more question leading up to that, so with those cuts and with those transitions, are you aware, is it because of lack of funding or is it to disburse the funding elsewhere within the program, to make it more effective and efficient?

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Ms. Orrell.

 

            MS. JANE ORRELL: Our funding, as a collective of nine agencies in the province, there is only a commitment to the end of, I believe it’s June of next year. Beyond June of next year we don’t know if our agencies will exist to provide the service.

 

            We’ve been told that Nova Scotians with disabilities will be able to access services that meet their needs but what that looks like, we really don’t know. We have had a lot of very positive conversations with government representatives so we’re really hoping that we’re going to see what this new model is going to look like in the next number of months.

 

            I know your question was around the number of people who would be affected, I’m not sure if you were referring to the agencies or referring to the clientele. If you are referring to clientele, people who are currently employed, about 50 per cent of them rely on that wraparound service, that Employment Maintenance and employment crisis service and the employers who are fully engaged now are also relying on that service. If there is an interruption in that due to the transition or transformation, it could have a catastrophic effect on both the relationships with the employers and the number of people who sustain their employment through that particular period.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Ms. MacDonald.

 

            HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: What a great presentation, thank you for being here. I’m really inspired, especially when you talk about the specific situations and the work you’ve done - it’s tremendous, very tremendous. I think the value for dollar, I mean $5,000, in that vicinity, to help somebody get attached to the labour market is pretty good value for dollar, I have to say.

 

            I have a few questions about a couple of things. You say that many of the people who come to your organizations are in the social security system, I guess I would say - income assistance or EI or whatever. Recently it has come to my attention that a significant number of people on income assistance have lost their financial support for bus passes and transportation, and as recently as yesterday I had an individual who used to receive $150 a month and has been reduced to $10 a month. As I explored this, I learned that the Department of Community Services is using a very narrow definition of what they will provide transportation for now - medical appointments. They don’t include in that some other things like counselling services and things like this.

 

            I’m wondering, have you seen in your agencies, any of your clients impacted by that change in the Department of Community Services?

 

            MR. JAMIESON: Yes, very much so. We’ve seen a dramatic change in a lot of our clients coming to us who are on social assistance. The bus passes seem to be much more difficult to get and we’re finding that we’re being required to provide a considerable amount of information to the DCS workers on why this person needs a bus pass, so a tremendous amount of paperwork and details around what the person is doing - an action plan. This has kind of added another task for us to do with the work that we do.

 

The impact it has had on our clients is, it is actually taking them away from their job search. It’s causing a lot of stress and anxiety that they may be at risk of losing their bus passes, which is actually going to make it more challenging for them to do their job searching. If you have someone who is living in Sackville, there are only so many jobs in Sackville so that job search has to expand to Dartmouth and Halifax, and we’ll have to provide a fair amount of justification as to why that is the case. So we’ve seen that a great deal.

 

            MS. MACDONALD: Thank you very much. It just doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. If you have government supporting programs to help people get into the labour market on the one hand but another department making it difficult for people to search for work, get to training, and get to support - those kinds of things - it kind of defies logic, I must say.

 

            The other thing I would like to ask about - income assistance is now being overhauled, I guess I would say; it hasn’t been significantly changed for quite a long time. I remember the last time it was kind of redone. At that time people with disabilities and their organizations were very resistant to having like a special program or a special stream. There was quite a debate about whether people with disabilities should be kind of treated like everybody else, with some additional supports or whatever that were relevant.

 

            Is your partnership involved in any consultation around the new focus and structure of the income assistance program that’s currently underway?

 

            MS. JANE ORRELL: No, we have not been involved in any discussions or consultations around the transformation with respect to income assistance or any of the transformation with Community Services.

 

            MS. MACDONALD: Thank you. I won’t hog all the time. (Laughter)

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: We’ll have a second go-round, hopefully. Mr. Rankin.

 

            MR. IAIN RANKIN: I have just a couple of questions. I’m just wondering if you could explain how you collaborate with the other organizations that have the same or similar mandates. We’ve had the March of Dimes come in here and there’s also PAANS and some of the other organizations. You talk about a network of nine, so was that within that network or is that aside from that? Is it clear for a person who just has a disability and leaves university, is it clear to them which organization is the best to contact? What is the first step for them?

 

            MS. AINSWORTH: I’ll start with the back part of your question. We do a fair bit of marketing collectively, so for the nine agencies that are across the province, if anyone were to call to find out how they might get some help, they would very likely be directed to a Careers Nova Scotia Centre, which could be one of two types: it could be the general agency or it could be specialized. So if they did go directly to a generalized agency, it would depend on that agency to then decide that they could direct them to a specialized or dedicated agency.

 

            I would say the chances should be pretty high that most people would get directed to an employment agency of some sort. What happens after that, it depends on the agency. Some are very good at making referrals because we offer different programs than a generalized service; we have different pools of funding for people with disabilities that they might not have. So we always encourage and welcome that referral process to be strong, if the person indicates or self-identifies as having a disability.

 

            The second part to your question, do we collaborate with other agencies - most definitely yes. In our case and pretty much everywhere, we’re a team, we’re a co-operative. We’re already a co-operative of 31 other agencies that work with people with disabilities so we’re always, every day, connecting with other agencies, and we collaborate together on behalf of our clients. So you’ll often see in a lot of different situations if we’re trying to sort something out or find particular employment or work through some barriers that one of our clients might have, we’ll be sitting around the table with possibly up to 10 people in our community. It could be parents and it could be some of our other community partners.

 

            We do work with the March of Dimes. They have a fund nationally - well, they did last year - that offered wage subsidies so we would probably have been their number-one customer using that fund because they had a program that allowed a work experience opportunity for people for up to a year, which was phenomenal, and then a very high likelihood of employment, so we partnered quite heavily with them to make that happen for our clients.

 

            MR. RANKIN: I was just wondering about the ability to leverage the other organizations, if you’re able to do that, so that’s good.

 

            My second part would be, is it always the flow inwards from the outside to the organization or do you actually go out and look at - because the percentage is 20 per cent but in the justice system and on the streets, the homelessness, it’s much higher than that. Do you have mechanisms to go out and actually proactively find people who do need your help?

 

            MS. AINSWORTH: We do a fair bit of marketing but the outreach, we probably could do more. Most people seem to find us. But resource-wise, I would say we probably could use more resources to do more of that outreach, and that might be something that our government is currently looking at: realigning some of the investments to make that happen.

 

            MR. RANKIN: Okay, thank you.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Orrell.

 

            MR. EDDIE ORRELL: Thank you for your presentation this morning. I have just a couple of quick questions. Marcus, you talked about the services you provide to the employees and the employers - before, during and after employment, interventions, and follow-up. Do the mainstream programs offering employment services do the same thing for their clients and their employers as you guys do with people with disabilities?

 

            MR. JAMIESON: Not to the level that we do. Some of the mainstream agencies do have job developers, but the job development they would provide wouldn’t be on the same level that we do. We’re much more involved with the employers, we provide different types of strategies to do interviews, like a travelling interview - which I didn’t mention - which is where someone goes in and instead of having a face-to-face interview over a table, which can cause a lot of anxiety, we actually get them to do a little bit of the job and walk around, which takes the anxiety down.

 

            Those types of strategies and stuff, the mainstream organizations probably wouldn’t have access to, wouldn’t be able to do. I don’t think there’s any other mainstream agencies that provide any job coaching or Employment Maintenance support, so that’s pretty unique for us as well.

 

            MR. EDDIE ORRELL: So if the services get blended as they’re talking and some of that service falls away - I guess that would be the best way to put it because you may lose some of your specialized people to other organizations or other provinces, and so on and so forth, to provide that service.

 

            We know that government and organizations rely solely on outcomes to fund programs, maintain a program. Obviously then the people with disabilities would require more resources, human and financial, which would then cut back on the number or the results of your outcomes. My feeling is that those services would fall to the wayside before someone who may be in the mainstream area would be more likely to provide a better outcome.

 

What would the cost of that be to the group of people with disabilities and/or the justice system, the Community Services system, and the health care system? These people wouldn’t be attached to the labour force and would then have to go back into the other programs and do - well, not be employed, and won’t rely on the system, but they usually tend to get into trouble more and use the health care system more.

 

            Although you’re saving the province a ton of money doing what you’re doing, you’re talking about cutting that service which would put that back, the savings would be gone, plus the costs would be up. Can you comment on that for me?

 

            MS. AINSWORTH: I think that’s an excellent point. What the risk could be if things are blended and the expertise in working with people with disabilities that has taken years to evolve, is lost at the top level and the middle level and the front-line level, then what can happen in the rush to have outcomes happen, people with disabilities kind of fall by the wayside and their voices are often not heard.

 

            In our agencies we’re dedicated so our first priority is to work with people with disabilities, however long it takes. If it takes a year, six months, two months, it doesn’t matter, it’s our priority. All of our approaches are about making it more effective for people with disabilities so it’s quite a different approach than in a blended environment or exclusively generalized. People with disabilities may fall away and not be heard from again and maybe we wouldn’t know right away until other things started to happen - our health care costs go up, and definitely crime is on the rise. People are disenfranchised and employment is the remedy for many, many things in our emotional and health and well-being, so it would be at a great cost.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: One short one, Mr. Orrell.

 

            MR. EDDIE ORRELL: Very short - people who are now employed who wouldn’t get the follow-up if the services are either blended or go to a different model, what would happen to them?

 

            MR. JAMIESON: Well, a great many of them would be at risk of not being able to maintain their job, it’s that simple. We have a lot of clients who come through looking for that service right from the get-go. They know that when they become employed they want to have that support.

 

            It’s different for different people. Some people need on-site support, where we’re going right into the workplace, and other people just want to meet for coffee after work to discuss how the day went, just to vent and get things out and have a talk. If that’s not there, some people may not even attempt to look for work because they’re not going to have that support. Other people who do may not be able to maintain it.

 

            The other important piece is the employers. We have employers who are asking for that support, as well, so if that’s not there, they may not be engaged as well. A lot of the times when our clients are going through the process of getting hired by an employer, that employer expects that support to be there. If it’s not there, it’s a completely different conversation so it would have a dramatic effect on the employers and on the clients.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Jessome.

 

            MR. BEN JESSOME: Through you, Mr. Chairman, to begin; Ms. Orrell, you said there’s a requirement to kind of very specifically identify what part or what asset would receive the best value for dollar, in terms of the disability management piece. Are there kind of key areas that should be identified as best serving of investment dollars for your disability services?

 

            MS. JANE ORRELL: I’ll try to answer that because I’m not really clear on the question. Are you . . .

 

            MR. JESSOME: I’ll clarify. Sorry, I guess the way I understood what you had said was that if there’s going to be money invested in your overall services, that there are particular places that would be better supported with dollar values. I’m just trying to identify what those are.

 

            MS. JANE ORRELL: Absolutely, without any doubt, accommodation assessment and planning and disability management assessment and planning. The only complication in that is that if you’re not providing that service with that focus and attention from the top down and the bottom up, there are some significant risks because you may not necessarily be prepared.

 

            As Janice mentioned, it has taken many years to get to the stage to understand that at the point of contact we have to be prepared for a meeting, a telephone conversation, an in-person meeting that is very unique and different potentially than what you would see at a mainstream centre. Right from the physical environment to the type of communication to the ongoing support that is required for somebody and just around the investment piece, what I was referring to was the risk of investment in potentially a skill development intervention or a start intervention for somebody who was not really ready. Maybe if you carried out a typical employment readiness survey, they would appear to be ready without that disability management assessment, you wouldn’t be asking those more in-depth questions that really need to be answered.

 

            MR. JESSOME: Through you, Mr. Chairman, that’s actually a good segue to my next question. It kind of came about when you were talking about cases where you are dealing with potential termination of your client. Do you have discussions with employers or is there a current situation where employers are adopting kind of a best practice or making it an internal policy for them to reach out to you in advance of termination?

 

            You’ve all described your fantastic ability to react quickly and deal with this, but frankly that seems kind of - it would be better served if each company was kind of adopting a best practice to reach out prior to and giving you a little more comfort in reaching out to the circumstance.

 

            MS. JANE ORRELL: That is part of the onboarding process. When we’re transitioning somebody into a place of employment and we’re carrying out that education piece, that commitment is often what the employer is looking for, particularly in the more complex cases where more supports might be required or where there’s an episodic disability which could result in occasional lapses, temporary lapses in employment over a period of time. Historically what we would see is if that employment crisis intervention wasn’t available, those temporary lapses in employment for episodic disabilities would result in permanent lapses in employment and people would be back on income assistance.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: We’ll go on to the next person - Ms. Peterson-Rafuse.

 

            HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: I just want to revisit the issue with respect to the bus passes. I’m very concerned about that and the effect that can have on your ability as an organization to be able to assist because the transportation is key, as any one of us know if we’re searching for employment, we have to travel around. You could be doing that every second day, looking for work and going for interviews and so forth.

 

            I’m wondering, since this cut to the bus passes and in terms of the availability, is CPN documenting that with clients so you can get a general sense over a period of time of those who are facing this issue and the detriment to their ability to find work?

 

            MS. AINSWORTH: You know that’s a great question and a very good idea. It has sort of just occurred and we’re just noticing the volume of requests that now we’re filling and we’ve started to prepare. We prepared a template that we would send back to our income assistance worker, but often that’s not enough so we were just trying to get ourselves organized enough to give the information that was required to keep that bus pass in play for our client. That will definitely be our next step, to just keep track of how many people it is impacting. We were wrestling with what we can do about it because the immediate need - and we like to respond to the immediate need - is to get the person the bus pass they need.

 

            That presents a bit of a challenge for us because it can open up a whole floodgate and we may not have the capacity to cover all those bus passes. We would like to.

 

            MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: It would be very costly.

 

            MS. AINSWORTH: It would be very costly. We have some fund that we cover some bus passes but it can’t be to this magnitude. I would say to you that we will be taking a look at that and tracking just the numbers. We’re noticing our case managers’ report almost daily that some additional client, a new client has been affected.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Jamieson, if you would like to say a few comments.

 

            MR. JAMIESON: We are taking names so I take the names of individuals but it’s increasing considerably every week. We’ve always been asked for information for the clients we are working with who are job searching. It’s not uncommon for a DCS worker to ask, are you working with blah, blah and we provide a quick letter that yes, they are in our service. That has always been good.

 

            What has changed is now there’s more information that is needed so often we’ll still send our template in, that will be sent back saying that’s not enough, we need more. So we’ll send what we call a return to work action plan, we’ll send that in, and that’s not enough, we need more. So then I have to get on the phone and I call and say, what exactly are you looking for? They want specific dates of meetings when they are with the employers, when they are doing this or that, which is very difficult to predict when you’re job searching. You don’t always know when the interview is going to happen. You don’t always know when you’re going to go to an employer, all these things.

 

            It’s hard to say when the person can’t even travel so we can’t quite get that information. Give us a bus pass and then we can kind of give you a better, more accurate prediction of what the dates would look like.

 

            MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Thank you very much because that basically - my follow-up was to get more sense of what that process is you’re dealing with. I also have a great concern in the equity of the distribution of those bus passes, depending on who you have as a caseworker. If the rules are saying right now that they have to be for medical purposes, you will probably find there will be some caseworkers who really understand the need of having that pass and will support somebody in their pass, and the next person has a different caseworker so there will be greater inconsistency in terms of those who are privileged to have a bus pass and those who are not.

 

            Have you had any denials yet, in terms of the paperwork going back and forth, with regard to a client asking for a bus pass and them saying no? Even if you haven’t had that to date, how much time and energy and frustration does it put into the process of going back and forth and back and forth?

 

            MR. JAMIESON: We have had some denials and for various reasons. A lot of it is kind of ongoing so the back and forth can last weeks, if not months sometimes, which is very stressful for the individual. There again, it takes them away from the job search, and they are not in a place to job search if they haven’t got transportation and sometimes it’s other things that are going on in their life that they’re not able to get funding for around medication or they’ve had different allowances for dietary reasons that’s at risk, so all these things are at risk. It is taking the person away from focusing on their job search.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Ms. Treen.

 

            MS. JOYCE TREEN: Thank you for your presentation. It’s my second time because I sit on the Community Services Committee but I’ve learned more. As I’ve said before, I have a son with a learning disability. He goes to Bridgeway Academy so we’re around people all the time who have disabilities. What you do is wonderful.

 

            Unless people walk in the shoes of these people with disabilities who are trying to get jobs, they really don’t understand. They really need someone to connect with them and to relate to them and to give them a helping hand. They can function very well and do a very good job but they do need a helping hand so kudos to you guys.

 

            My question is, when you do find employers who are interested in hiring people with disabilities, or maybe they are thinking about it, what do you do to convince them to have confidence in hiring somebody with a disability?

 

            MS. AINSWORTH: There are several ways to go about that. Marcus mentioned informal process so we do a lot of coffee table chats and our employers are very willing to do this. They’ll come to our office and we know the industry they are in so let’s use the hospitality industry. We’ll set up an informal coffee table chat with about five or six clients. They’ll meet the individuals and then they’ll have a conversation. That seems to be a very effective way of talking to our employers. That’s one way.

 

            Some of the other ways are: we get to know the employer and their business first, we get to know the HR professionals, and then we ease into the conversation about how we’re a disability organization and we have lots of people with the right skills and we just start taking the steps from there.

 

            We mentioned in our last meeting, we also work with an ability employers group that is a business-led group that talks from one employer to another and convinces other employers that this is a really good idea and it’s good for business to hire people with disabilities. Those are some of the ways that we engage.

 

            MS. TREEN: Do you think it’s increasing with every employer you get that they tell somebody and they tell somebody, are you increasing your group of employers you can go to?

 

            MS. AINSWORTH: Yes, absolutely. We are noticing - this is the momentum we’re talking about - we have this group of ability employers, we have disability-confidence sessions. This is just an example, so new employers who maybe haven’t been hiring, over this last year we’ve seen an increase in the attendees to these disability-confident workshops, which have gone from maybe 20 to 60, so there’s a real curiosity, interest, desire, to learn more about what it means to hire a person with a disability and how can I, as an employer, get the support and how can I talk to other employers who have hired people with disabilities, so we notice on that level.

 

            We also noticed with the employers we currently work with, so if I could use Pete’s as an example - everybody is familiar with Pete’s - they have hired quite a number of people with different disabilities over the years. So as they expand their confidence - they hired somebody initially who was deaf and they made a small modification with a beeper system so they could work effectively in the kitchen. Then, before you know it, they’re hiring people with any disability. They are very disability-confident and they’re also part of this ability employer group, so they’ll talk to other employers and engage them in that conversation about how much it is affecting - their culture has improved, their bottom line improves and they have reliable, loyal employees.

 

            MS. JANE ORRELL: I just wanted to add a point to that, if I could, it’s a really interesting question. It seems that once you develop that initial relationship and it’s a positive experience for the employer, they tend to continue to recruit from you. Just as recently as this past week, I had an email through LinkedIn from a gentleman who used to run a manufacturing plant in Cape Breton. He is no longer there but he’s working for a national company right now and he was looking to make contact with a like-minded agency in Saskatoon and wondered if I could help him make that connection. Obviously that type of connection is really resonating with the companies that we are working with.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Orrell - fairly short questions.

 

            MR. EDDIE ORRELL: A very short question. I’d just like a comment, if I could, on just recently the government announced it is going to dive deep into accessibility legislation. We think it’s great, I think it’s a great idea, we need the legislation, we need everybody to be treated equal. But with the talk of the service changes and the service requirements and so on and so forth, does that not contradict itself that we’re going to provide accessibility legislation and then we’re looking at the services that people provide for people with disabilities. I wonder if you guys had any input or any conversations or any talks with the people who may be developing this legislation. If not, let’s hope that you do. If I could have a comment on that, it would be great.

 

            MS. AINSWORTH: Yes, we participated on the employment subcommittee for the accessibility legislation to provide input and recommendations. Of those recommendations it was clearly stated in our employment report that the need to really examine and retain specialized services would be, I guess, the way to go in terms of future accessibility planning. As this unfolds, we realize right now we’re not at the stage where - the standards and guidelines for each of the seven areas of the accessibility legislation are not developed yet. We would hope that the dedicated services would be in place as that unfolds.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Mr. Rankin.

 

            MR. RANKIN: Just a quick question following up from what Ms. Treen was talking about on the incentive. I see that’s a good thing but are you doing anything to recognize the employers who are participating? Do you have a plaque and award ceremony or anything to show the appreciation, because that does go a long way?

 

            MS. AINSWORTH: Yes, definitely. Each year when we do the Ability Starts Here symposium we have a Lieutenant Governor’s Award, the Lieutenant Governor Partnership Award, and it recognizes both the employee and the employer for the work they did together, the person with a disability and the employer. This has been eight years and running. I think Pete’s did win one year.

 

            Yes, that’s a great recognition, and each in our own communities, we host several events where we recognize employers for their great contribution. It’s definitely important.

 

            We also have the ability employers do a passport certification. What that means is that they have attended six different disability workplace, disability-confident series, so they receive a certification. In one particular case it was recognized by the minister, she attended and gave out the awards. We keep trying to encourage more and more of those recognitions.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Jessome.

 

            MR. JESSOME: I had just a couple of questions circled and I missed it in my first round here so excuse me. Through you, Mr. Chairman, I’m wondering if one of you folks might be able to expand on kind of how you track your clients beyond - sorry, is there a way to track your clients who don’t continue to access the services that you offer?

 

            Just as a follow-up, is it kind of assumed or is it justified to assume that those who are no longer reaching out to access your services are no longer requiring them?

 

            MS. AINSWORTH: Well that’s a great question. What we do is follow our clients through a system that’s through the provincial government, it’s called LaMPSS. It tracks each person’s social insurance number and all of the work we do together over the course of time. It’s a good reporting system, it’s a case management system. We track people for up to a year after they are finished the completion of their last intervention with us. So if they are employed, we would follow up during the course of that year, to make sure everything is going okay and they are still employed.

 

            For those people who might come to us who for some reason - and we do find this can happen from time to time, people with different disabilities, particularly episodic disabilities, their health may limit them from coming in on a regular basis so they may drop off our system for a while. We will follow up to a certain extent but at some point we’ll just - I guess most people find their way back to us when they are well again. I hope that answers the question.

 

            MR. JESSOME: Yes, it does, thank you.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Since we have a minute or two, I’d like to ask a question. A lot of your discussions this morning are about clients and your groups that work with the needy. I’m wondering, what part and how much time does it take to talk to parents? It was mentioned once, I think, here. Mr. Jamieson.

 

            MR. JAMIESON: The parents are very involved for a lot of our clients. They are advocates, as well, so it’s something that we welcome. The parents can provide a lot of input and insight into what are the best supports for the client. It’s an important part of our service.

 

It can be time-consuming if we’re meeting with a client and then we’re meeting with the parent and we have to follow up with the client and the parent, but it is something that we do as best we can. We encourage the parents to be just parents, allow us to do the employment supports. I’ll often say, you can just be the parent, it’s fine, we’ve got everything under control as far as the employment supports. If you need an update I can provide you an update, but they’re in good hands.

 

            Often if a parent wants to come and a person is coming into our service for the first time, they can come to workshops, they can come to the first couple of meetings, but we do encourage at some point to allow us just to provide support.

 

            There are situations where the parent has to be very involved throughout the whole process because of the person’s disability where they can’t advocate on their own or maybe there are severe communication challenges, but we have to do that. We do that as well but the parents, that’s a whole other skill set, managing the parents as well. But as I say, we welcome that.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you for that very positive comment. Ms. Treen.

 

            MS. TREEN: We were given a list of the nine groups of your CPN. I notice there are two in Halifax and you represent one. Do they overlap in their service? Are they completely different, or is one located here and one located there? Why are there two? Maybe you can explain that to me.

 

            MS. AINSWORTH: There are two agencies in Halifax. Really it is one full service, TEAM Work Cooperative and WorkBridge. WorkBridge works on the job development end and TEAM Work Cooperative works on the case management end.

 

            We co-located several years ago. It was decided 14 years ago that the WorkBridge would evolve as a specialized job development agency. That was something that the community at the time supported. We decided to co-locate so we could share resources. Many of our staff are actually shared between the two agencies. It’s a little unique, it’s not like that anywhere else in the province but it is in Halifax.

 

            We have a large population base that we’re working with in Halifax so probably the number of clients that we work with in Halifax would be about 700 or 800 per year, so it works well to have the two agencies co-located.

 

            MS. TREEN: So are they near to each other? One is job development, meaning they are the ones that help them find a job, and then case management are the ones that follow them after they get a job? So do they go to both agencies to receive their assistance?

 

            MS. AINSWORTH: Yes, they are very close together, we’re in the same building - in the same office. If you walked in the office you wouldn’t know you were dealing - and we like that for the client’s point of view. There is absolutely no distinction when clients come in, they just know they’ll have a case manager. The case manager will start working with them and they will refer them to the job development agency, the WorkBridge. That’s a little bit about how that would transfer.

 

            For the essence of anybody walking in the door, you would never know. We’re in the same location.

 

            MS. TREEN: Thank you.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: I have one quick question and then a summation, if you’d like, to give some final comments. Ms. MacDonald.

 

            MS. MACDONALD: My question is about how successful you’ve been securing employment placements in public sector workplaces. You’ve talked about hospitality and banking, for example, but we have a significant public sector - the provincial government, the school boards, the health care system, the university sector. I mean these organizations all have big, big needs. They have cafeterias, they have cleaning departments, and they have clerks and payroll and all kinds of things. So my question is, how successful have you been working with that sector?

 

            MS. JANE ORRELL: I will say that there has been some work done with the health authority, or various health authorities at the time - now the one. I guess I would have to say that there is still much work to be done with the Public Service Commission in the area of hiring people with disabilities.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you, a very insightful meeting. Lots of good comments, a lot of good questions. Now if you’d like to make a summation of your discussions.

 

            MS. AINSWORTH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In closing I’d like to say that persons with disabilities have been left out of the labour market with unemployment rates higher by 27 per cent than people without disabilities. There is no good reason for this except a lack of recognition of their abilities.

 

            People with disabilities have the right to expect the full range of employment services before and after employment, that address their needs, by professionals with the right expertise. Barriers are breaking down with employers with the presence of supports offered by the Collaborative Partnership Network in education and awareness of the benefits of hiring from this skilled labour pool.

 

            Change does take time and attention, and that can only happen with agencies that are dedicated to working with both the person with a disability and the employer, to demonstrate their skills and place in the workforce.

 

            Persons with disabilities deserve the right to dedicated employment services that will not risk dilution of services through cost-saving measures. Ensuring that every person has the opportunity to engage in employment to his or her own level of desire and capacity will decrease costs to our income assistance, employment insurance, and health care in the long run. Thank you very much everyone.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Again, thank you for coming today, very good discussions.

 

            We’re going to take some time out before we start again.

 

            [10:31 a.m. The committee recessed.]

 

            [10:39 a.m. The committee reconvened.]

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: We’ll get back to our correspondence and committee business.

 

            Before we begin the ABC appointments or agenda-setting, I would like to address the items which were deferred from the May 26th meeting.

 

The first one, the Honourable Maureen MacDonald’s motion that she would like to pass: “I would like to make a motion that all appointments to the province’s agencies, boards and commissions, both adjudicative and non-adjudicative, be restricted to permanent residents of the province, as defined by the Elections Act.”

 

            A legal opinion has been received from the Legislative Counsel Office indicating that “. . . the Human Resources Committee does not have the jurisdiction to consider the motion. The proposed motion would change the mandate of the Committee . . .” - the committee’s mandate is set out in the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly - “Only the House of Assembly can change the Rules.”

 

The motion is therefore out of order. I believe you have received some opinions from our legal side and hopefully that will satisfy that issue.

 

            The residency requirement for ABC appointments in other jurisdictions - again you also would have received some information about that. This information was compiled and provided to committee members.

 

The ABC application form primary residence question - Ms. MacDonald also asked that the application form be looked at as it does not contain a question relating to the applicant’s permanent residence. The Form “A” contains the applicant’s information as it is the document that is provided to the HR Committee for review. The committee has no authority to amend the Form “A” and it is contained within the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly and only the House of Assembly can change that rule.

 

            ABC appointments begin with the appointments to - Ms. MacDonald.

 

            MS. MACDONALD: Mr. Chairman, I’m going to request that we refer the various documents that you made reference to the House of Assembly Matters so that if and when that committee convenes, this is something that I would have them put on their agenda. That’s what I’m requesting, that we send this to the appropriate committee of the Legislature that has the capacity to look at the Rules of the House, look at the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Are you making a motion?

 

            MS. MACDONALD: If I have to make a motion, I’ll make a motion but I’m just kind of making a friendly suggestion at this point, I guess I would say.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: A vote on the motion? The motion would be to refer this information that we have today to the House of Assembly.

 

            MS. MACDONALD: For their consideration when they convene. (Interruption)

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: For their consideration, okay - to the Committee on Assembly Matters.

 

            Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

 

            The motion is carried.

 

            Okay, ABC appointments - beginning with the appointments for the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage. I ask a member to bring a motion forward - Mr. Jessome.

 

            MR. JESSOME: Mr. Chairman, would you like me to present the Department of CCH in its entirety?

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes, starting with Communities, Culture and Heritage.

 

            MR. JESSOME: Mr. Chairman, I move that Shalan Joudry be appointed to the Arts Nova Scotia Board as a member. I also move that Darryl Wiseman be appointed to the Western Counties Regional Library Board as a member. Additionally, I move that Ruth Legge be appointed to the Sherbrooke Restoration Commission as a commissioner.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

 

            The motion is carried.

 

            Mr. Rankin, the Department of Finance and Treasury Board.

 

            MR. RANKIN: Mr. Chairman, I move that Cathie O’Toole be appointed to the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation as a director.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Ms. MacDonald.

 

MS. MACDONALD: Mr. Chairman, I actually don’t have a question, I have a comment. I’m concerned about this appointment. This individual works for the Halifax Water Commission as their Chief Financial Officer. We know that as we sit here now the workers at the Halifax Water Commission are locked out by their employer. We’re into the fourth or the fifth week of this.

 

            I have to say that it’s my personal view that it’s disgraceful to see a public sector employer lock their workers out and attempt to starve them into submission in this way. I note that the individual that we’re being asked to appoint by the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board to the Liquor Corporation is also the administrator of the pension plan for the Halifax Water Commission.

 

            We’ve seen the exorbitant salaries and the increase in those salaries of senior management at the Halifax Water Commission when we know that the average pension of a worker from that entity is quite significantly low, it’s like $30,000 or less.

 

That’s only half of my concern. As someone who lives in metro and is a ratepayer, I have seen water bills - mine and all of my neighbours’ water bills, increase like four or five times the regular billing, with no transparency, no accountability. These significant increases have just kind of appeared, they have snuck through. So I’m very concerned that then we would appoint to the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, probably the second most senior person at the Halifax Water Commission, to $1,000 a day remuneration and on to that board.

 

            For those reasons, I will not support this appointment. I am extremely, extremely disappointed in the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board for bringing this appointment forward.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

 

            The motion is carried.

 

            The Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Ms. Treen.

 

            MS. TREEN: Mr. Chairman, I move that Nathan Boudreau be appointed to the Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board of Nova Scotia as a member.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

 

            The motion is carried.

 

            The Department of Labour and Advanced Education, Ms. Miller.

 

            MS. MARGARET MILLER: Mr. Chairman, I move that Joel Marsman and Karen Pictou be appointed to the Apprenticeship Agency of Nova Scotia as members-at-large. Also, I move that Curtis Cartmill, Sean Foreman, and Peter G. Fardy be appointed to the Dalhousie University Foundation as members.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

 

Mr. Orrell.

 

            MR. EDDIE ORRELL: Mr. Chairman, I have just a quick comment, not necessarily a question. I’m glad to see that the Apprenticeship Agency has reached out to the First Nations people and more people throughout the province to give a better representation. We brought this up before about the representation and the zoning areas and people with experience or who have gone through the apprenticeship training. I’m glad to see that these two people are from those groups that were maybe under-represented at the time in different areas of the province. For that reason I’ll be voting for those two.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Ms. MacDonald.

 

            MS. MACDONALD: Are we on the Dalhousie Foundation as well?

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Both of them - under the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.

 

            MS. MACDONALD: I’m not going to oppose the Dalhousie appointments but I am going to put on the record again my serious concern. This is a seven-person board, I believe, and it’s now 100 per cent male. Come on, what year is this? This is a public institution in many respects.

 

I find it very concerning, I guess I would say, that our largest university is unable to bring forward the names of capable, qualified women to serve on this foundation. If you go to the law school, if you go to the medical school now, those large professional schools are graduating more than 50 per cent women, for example.

 

            So this is not good enough, in my view. I will not stand in the way of these appointments, but I think the record needs to reflect that.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

 

            The motion is carried.

 

            We have one more, the Department of Natural Resources. Mr. Jessome.

 

            MR. JESSOME: Mr. Chairman, I move that Vishal Bhardwaj, Michael Hughes, William McIntyre, Stephen Newton, Timothy Schaus, Joliene Stockley, and Deborah Ann Windsor be appointed to the Shubenacadie Canal Commission as commissioners.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Orrell.

 

            MR. EDDIE ORRELL: Let me just say, Mr. Chairman, I’m glad to see that they were finally able to pronounce this gentleman’s name after the third appointment in four months to an agency, board or commission in this province. I will say again that this gentleman is a known Liberal donor. He is working on campaigns now, his Twitter account is lit up with “vote for and elect” Liberal people in the riding that he’s in.

 

            My concern is that this is a reward for what he’s doing for the Liberal Party. It’s obvious that he’s out there campaigning with these people and to be on another board, a third in four months, when there are eight people who apply for a board, seven people are there, and this gentleman is one of them. I just want to say I will be voting against this gentleman because of that reason, and I’m just disappointed that this is going on this way. It’s the third time in four months and I just wanted to have that on the record.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

 

            The motion is carried.

 

            That completes the appointments to ABCs. Ms. Peterson-Rafuse.

 

            MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: I just wanted to make a comment when you’re deciding on the meeting date and time, please, when that’s on your agenda.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, agenda items. Mr. Rankin, you wish to speak?

 

            MR. RANKIN: How many topics are we looking for here?

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: A minimum of three.

 

            MR. RANKIN: Okay, so I’ll put forth a motion. I’ve reviewed the topics and the three that I see most appropriate to the committee are LAE, university sandboxes, as a topic. Another topic I like is for the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, report card changes. Also, in the spirit of co-operation, there is one from the Opposition that I do see has value for the committee at this juncture, and that would also be from LAE, RN education review; I would like to add the Department of Health and Wellness as a witness for that particular topic as well.

 

I move that those three topics be put forth for the next three meetings that include presentations. I so move.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Now these would take us to December. Go ahead, Mr. Orrell.

 

            MR. EDDIE ORRELL: Is it not the practice that we do one topic from each caucus when we select topics for discussion at the committee? I know it’s getting obvious that when we put a topic forward they vote it down, and they take what they want, but to put forward all of the topics themselves from their own caucus because it’s their interests, I think that’s absurd, Mr. Chairman.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: One is from the NDP. Ms. MacFarlane.

 

            MS. MACFARLANE: Mr. Chairman, I just want to say that I believe it has been standard practice that it’s one each that we put on the floor. I know with other committees we have done that and it has worked well so I would hope that co-operation would be here today, that we would all put the subject matter, our first choice forward and vote on each one.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Ms. MacDonald.

 

            MS. MACDONALD: I do agree with my colleagues in the PC caucus but in the spirit of co-operation, I would be very happy to support the Liberal caucus’ hub school model topic. I think it is an appropriate topic to bring forward. I think it warrants higher priority than perhaps some of the other topics, given the debacle we’ve seen occur in the Colchester area, the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board.

 

            I would say I would very much like to have that topic explored and I would like to bring in Mr. Fowler, who was the author of the report on the hub school model, as well as the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board, and representatives from the communities that have presented proposals for the various schools as hub schools.

 

            This is a very important topic to those communities and it is, I think, going to be of significant importance to a number of other communities that are also looking at this model, including communities in Cape Breton and throughout the province in probably many of the ridings that are represented right at this table.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: We have a motion on the floor. Would all those in favour of the motion (Interruption) The motion was from Mr. Rankin.

 

            We’ll go through the first motion and then you can make a motion.

 

            MS. MACDONALD: I’m going to amend the motion, though, the first motion - I wish to amend it.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, we’ll vote on the amendment to add the hub school model. Would all those in favour of the motion, as amended, please say Aye. (Interruptions)

 

            MS. MACDONALD: Mr. Chairman, we would be prepared to withdraw our topics and substitute the hub school model.

 

            MR. EDDIE ORRELL: Mr. Chairman, we’d like to have our own topic on there, not what the Liberals picked for us. For them to put forth three names and vote on it . . .

 

            MS. MACFARLANE: What’s the purpose?

 

            MR. EDDIE ORRELL: There’s no purpose in us being here to set agendas if we’re going to do that. We can’t win; we don’t get our own topics. It has been the practice of this committee that we each pick a topic, we bring those people in to represent people who we think are important at the time. If we have no say in who gets put in there, Mr. Chairman, I just think the whole democracy issue is gone out the window.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Ms. MacFarlane.

 

            MS. MACFARLANE: I think we all agree that the hub school model needs to be discussed. It’s definitely on the radar and will be for some time as we go forward with our education system here. I think that in all fairness what we should be doing is putting that out there, as my colleague to my right here has suggested, with university sandboxes - I think that’s extremely important as well - and then with mental health being third. I think those should be our top three.

 

            I think for obvious reasons, because they are topics that affect all of us sitting here and have been extremely obvious subjects in the media for the last number of months, I would hope we would all sit back for a moment and reconsider that hub school model, university sandboxes, and mental health. Thank you.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Well, we’ll first vote on the amendment from Ms. MacDonald, which includes the hub, and remove RN education review with LEA and Health and Wellness. Do you wish to speak, Ms. MacDonald?

 

            MS. MACDONALD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Just in the interest of trying to move this forward, I offered the removal of the RN issue and substitute the hub school model. However, I’d be happy if we did four but it’s subject to discussion, I guess, and agreement around that.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: I hear you. We’re going to vote on the amended motion originally.

 

            MS. MACDONALD: So just to be clear, the motion, the amendment that I’m putting forward, is that we add to Mr. Rankin’s three topics the hub school model. That’s all that motion is.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Would all those in favour of the motion - question on the motion.

 

            MR. RANKIN: Are we voting on this amendment and then the motion after the amendment? Okay.

 

The thing I would just say to that is that the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is impacted so that there’s some separation there, so they aren’t in here two times in a row, that we just have one of the other topics that kind of fit them in between, that’s all. That’s fine then, I’ll support the amendment.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Would all those in favour of the amended motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

 

            The motion is carried. (Interruption)

 

            Yes, a vote on the “as amended” motion. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

 

            MR. EDDIE ORRELL: Can I be clear on that motion again, Mr. Chairman, please? (Interruptions)

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Go ahead, Mr. Orrell.

 

            MR. EDDIE ORRELL: So we’re going to vote on the motion that we accept the three or four topics that the Liberal caucus wants presented at this committee and we have no say, other than yea or nay, on what they decide? Is that what I’m hearing from that motion? (Interruption)

 

It doesn’t matter, we have traditionally - I’ve been here four years and every time we pick this committee’s selections for presenters, it has been: one, one, and one. Today we’re going to vote on a motion that the Liberal caucus picked the four of them and we vote on it and we don’t have any chance of winning that now? That’s absurd.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Ms. MacFarlane.

 

            MS. MACFARLANE: What I would like to do is make a motion to amend that we change one of the topic matters that have been just presented in the last motion. So once again I will go back to amend that I would like to see the report card changes substituted for mental health.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: I think for clarification we’re going to go without your suggestions to the original motion.

 

            MS. MACFARLANE: I’m putting a motion on the floor to amend so I would like that to go to a vote and have it open for consideration to discuss the topic matters again.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, I call for the question. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay. (Interruptions)

 

            MR. EDDIE ORRELL: There’s only three there, the process has been done. It’s over. It’s agreed. Democracy just worked . . .

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: She had a reason to not be at the table. (Interruptions)

 

MR. RANKIN: Did you vote, Eddie?

 

            MR. EDDIE ORRELL: I did.

 

            MR. RANKIN: I didn’t hear you vote. So can we do it again? (Interruptions)

 

            MR. EDDIE ORRELL: This is an absolute joke, just let them do what they want to do, Mr. Chairman, that’s the end of it. This is disgusting, that this is happening in a democratic society . . .

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: You have the honour to vote and you have.

 

            MR. EDDIE ORRELL: We did and we won. They had three people, we had four.

 

            MS. TREEN: I was choking and needed a glass of water. (Interruptions)

 

            MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Your chairman should have asked for a break until you came back. Your chairman asked for a vote.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: I think I did vote myself. So we’ll have another vote on it. (Interruptions) I declare my vote in favour of the motion.

 

            MR. EDDIE ORRELL: That’s the thing, your vote is the tie.

 

            MR. JESSOME: So what happens in the event of a tie?

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: We have another vote. (Interruptions) I voted in favour of the motion at the time.

 

            MS. KIM LANGILLE (Legislative Committee Clerk): So is the motion defeated or carried?

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: I would say the motion is carried.

 

Okay, so we have our topics for the next - well, I guess we go into next year with these topics for four issues to be discussed.

 

            Our next issue is the next meeting. The next meeting date is set for July 28th and, Ms. Peterson-Rafuse, you wanted to talk about that meeting?

 

            MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: I know we’ve bounced back and forth on the time and I wasn’t available last meeting to have a discussion with my colleague, but I’m asking for the committee’s consideration to go back to 10:00 a.m. It’s just due to the fact that it’s not just the travel from Chester, it’s the roadwork and it’s the traffic and it actually adds another almost 45 minutes to the drive, so it works much better. Sorry about that, I wasn’t available and we didn’t have an opportunity to chat.

 

            I know that we did that last summer and it worked well, that we kept to the 10:00 a.m.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Are you suggesting that we do that for July and August?

 

            MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Yes, please. When the House isn’t sitting, what works best is July and August - did we do September last year, because I thought we did the three months and then when we went into the House sitting it makes a difference because I’m here anyway during the sitting of the House. That’s why I’m asking because I don’t think the House would be sitting in September.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Probably not. I am amenable to doing it for the three months, 10:00 a.m.

 

            MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: I’d appreciate that.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: I don’t know if that interferes with our times.

 

            MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: It didn’t before, I don’t think.

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: You wish to speak on it?

 

            MR. RANKIN: I don’t like it going back and forth. This is going to be the final decision, right?

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: No, I don’t particularly but for the summer months, I guess we could do it.

 

            MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: That’s what we did last year in the summer months and I think you might have moved it back. (Interruptions)

 

            MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, we’ll agree to have the meeting time at 10:00 a.m. for July, August, and September.

 

            Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

 

            The motion is carried.

 

            The meeting is adjourned, thank you.

 

            [The committee adjourned at 11:13 a.m.]