Three organizations in the Emerald Zone are going to experience a loss to their offices in the next few months that they say will also be a loss for those who availed of the services previously offered through the programs they ran.
Employment Assistance Services (EAS) is a Provincial Government initiative that is offered through a number of third-party organizations throughout the province. The program, which started as a federal initiative and moved under the province in 2009, allowed organizations to assist those who were Employment Insurance Eligible to find employment and hone the skills needed to be a major part of the workforce.
“EAS provides assistance and information resources for career development and employment counseling, labour market information, resume and cover letter writing, job search, interview preparation, training programs and post-secondary institutions, employment counseling for adults and youth, referral to outside agencies for educational opportunities and other related services,” said Wilfred Bartlett in a letter to the Nor’wester. “Our office also aided clients who needed help with EI applications.”
Bartlett is a member of the Green Bay South Education Centre. Their organization sponsors the EAS office in Triton, which services all of Green Bay South, and is one of the 40 offices across the province to be cut.
“On March 1, 2013, we were notified that our contract would expire on June 30, because our services were no longer needed,” he went on to say. “Minister Shea did not have the courtesy to notify us first, so that we could break the bad news to our employees; in fact we found it out from our employees first.”
Those employees will be among the some 226 people across the province who will be out of work because of the cuts. However, for Bartlett, he says he understands Government’s need to streamline spending, but doesn’t agree with how they’re doing it.
“I am not against Government trying to consolidate and make services better and cheaper and I am not so much concerned about the jobs, as I am about the services we will lose in Rural NL and the distances and cost to the individuals to travel to get these services.”
The Baie Verte Peninsula is also in a similar situation. In Baie Verte CBDC Emerald sponsors the EAS office.
Executive Director, Nancy Brown, says they have around 400 clients on their roster of people who turn to the office for assistance and services.
“A lot of people rely on this office for help in finding employment,” she said. “And with the recent changes to the EI system, we were actually anticipating that activity would increase.”
Those changes to the EI system say that people on an EI claim have to be aggressively seeking employment and submitted resumes on a regular basis, or risk losing benefits. It’s those services, said Brown, their office could have assisted with. Now, not only is the program leaving the area, but she says three employees – two full time and one part time – will also be absent from their office and the area.
For Icecap Youth Centre in Springdale, who sponsors the EAS office for Green Bay, the loss of their EAS office means not only the loss of service for the community, but also loss of support for their other programs as well.
Wayne Clarke, Executive Director of Icecap, said they’re losing three full-time staff out of their centre, plus they’re losing a portion of his salary, since he was helping with EAS while working with Icecap.
“It’s a pretty big loss for us, because not only are we losing the three workers and the other salary money, but it also meant money for other things that helped us, like infrastructure, and stuff like that.”
In all, Clarke estimates the Centre will lose roughly $20,000 dollars from their budget – which he says is going to be hard to recover.
“One of the EAS workers was also our Youth Outreach Worker, and she was doing some great work in that role,” he went on to explain. “Now that’s gone as well, which means another major loss.”
Clarke says he doesn’t understand how Government can justify the cuts, thinking they can maintain the same level of service.
“I don’t know how they think they can keep the same level of service,” he explains. “Closing these three offices in this zone means all the clients will now be sent to the Career Work Centre here in Springdale. There’s no way that centre can take on this extra load and provide the same level of service people are getting now.”
As for whether the service was actually working, Nancy Brown says the evidence was in the results they were getting.
“We’ve got the statistics to say this was working, beyond a doubt,” she said. Clarke sentiment is that people will feel the loss once the service is no longer there.
“I think what it comes down to is that people are going to see how big this was, once it’s gone.”