Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, over the last five years the number of visits to Social Services' offices, where financial assistance was granted to those in need, has increased by 44 per cent. Expenditures over the same period increased by 70 per cent.
The social assistance program provides basic necessities and special needs to territorial residents, and helped over 24,000 residents in 1990-91, which is about 44 per cent of the territorial population. The program continues to be provided in the communities without any significant increase in field staff.
In order to provide support to those dedicated workers, the department is taking a number of initiatives:
1) A new automated social assistance information system has been implemented in all regions and will be fully operational by April of 1992. The system has been designed to give the department access to more up-to-date and accurate data and more accountable control over expenditures.
2) The department has identified the social assistance statutory training program as a priority, and has developed a comprehensive training program for staff. The training, scheduled to begin in March, will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the program delivery.
3) The department, in partnership with the Department of Education, is concluding negotiations on a five-year agreement with Canada Employment and Immigration Commission, and Health and Welfare Canada, to enhance the employment opportunities for social assistance recipients. The agreement, known as the Canada/NWT Accord is a continuation of a similar arrangement which was in place on a yearly basis for the last four years. The new agreement will provide $1.5 million per year for training, upgrading, and job development skills targeted specifically at social assistance recipients. The goal of this program is to assist clients to become self-sufficient. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.