Halifax Media Co-op

News from Nova Scotia's Grassroots

More independent news:
Do you want free independent news delivered weekly? sign up now
Can you support independent journalists with $5? donate today!
Advertisement

Community Services embarks on mystery welfare reform initiative

by Robert Devet

During last year's panel discussion to mark the International Day to Eradicate Poverty people on low income had lots of ideas on how Community Services could do a better job assisting them. The department is embarking on a project that will make major changes to the ESIA programs, but details will remain confidential until a later date.  Photo Robert Devet
During last year's panel discussion to mark the International Day to Eradicate Poverty people on low income had lots of ideas on how Community Services could do a better job assisting them. The department is embarking on a project that will make major changes to the ESIA programs, but details will remain confidential until a later date. Photo Robert Devet

(KJIPUKTUK), HALIFAX - The Department of Community Services is looking for help to implement a modernized benefit system for its income assistance and employment support programs.

What that new system entails is strictly on a need-to-know basis.

Community Services issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for what it calls a Employment Support and Income Assistance (ESIA) Benefit Reform Project in early December. A Request for Proposal is the government's way to ask for bids to get something done, or to buy something.

The project will be staged, and the RFP is looking for assistance for the first stage which will focus on developing a high level plan, to be completed by April 30th.

That plan will then help the department understand how long it will take and how much it will cost to put the new system in place.

A plan to do what exactly?

That's in an appendix, the RFP explains. And by the way, that appendix is confidential. Anybody who wants to see it must sign a Non-disclosure and Confidentiality Agreement.

“It is confidential at this stage because at this point, it is very much in draft form and early stages, and it may or may not represent what the future delivery model will look like,” Lori Errington, spokesperson for the department writes in an email to the Halifax Media Co-op.

“The project team will be seeking input from staff, clients and stakeholders on the potential model before a way forward is finalized and ready to be released publicly,” Errington continues.

Errington describes the initiative as a major multi-year reform, and writes that both technology and business aspects of the ESIA programs will be thoroughly analyzed.

The RFP states that the new system should lead to improved quality of life, resilience, social/community inclusion, self-sufficiency and labour market attachment for people who receive Community Services' support.

Lately there have been complaints by poverty advocates that Community Services pushes for self-sufficiency and labour market attachment too aggressively, forcing many of Nova Scotia's most vulnerable population into crisis mode.

“Over the last several years Community Services is squeezing and squeezing, making income assistance recipients jump through more an more hoops, cutting them off more and more often and making it harder and more undignified to be a person on income assistance,” Dalhousie Legal Aid's Fiona Traynor told the Halifax Media Co-op in November of last year.

But if poverty advocates want to provide input into the new system they will have to be patient.

The RFP describes how the project will be governed within Community Services, but offers little in concrete terms on how individuals and organizations will be consulted.

“Specific plans for how external stakeholders will be consulted have not yet been determined, and will be part of what the successful proponent will assist the Department with designing,” Errington explains.

 

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter  @DevetRobert

 


Socialize:
Want more grassroots coverage?
Join the Media Co-op today.
Topics: Poverty
477 words

Advertisement

User login


Google+
Subscribe to the Dominion $25/year

The Media Co-op's flagship publication features in-depth reporting, original art, and the best grassroots news from across Canada and beyond. Sign up now!