Pioneering Métis Work Program Successful, Yielding $103 Million Lifetime Fiscal Benefits



    OTTAWA, May 12 /CNW Telbec/ - Federal Aboriginal work programs, due to
expire next year, have produced positive results in Métis communities, a new
research study shows.
    The report, released by the Ottawa-based Centre for the Study of Living
Standards, concludes that the Métis Human Resources Development Agreements
result in annual fiscal savings of $8.5 million to the federal and 5
provincial governments covered by the program, with total lifetime benefits of
one year of Métis programming reaching $103 million.
    As the programs encourage permanently higher incomes, income tax revenue
increases and government transfer costs and health care costs fall. The Métis
Agreements are estimated to generate more than enough additional activity each
year to cover their annual costs of roughly $49 million.
    "Many claim devolution of program delivery doesn't work," says
Jean-François Arsenault, who authored the report. "This is a concrete example
of it working and where all are happy with the arrangement."
    The report is the first independent assessment of the economic
implications of ceding control of employment and training programs to local
Aboriginal organizations in 1999, with an initial annual investment of $350
million. The move gave Métis people unprecedented authority to plan programs
that met their needs.
    The government is currently evaluating the program, ahead of its possible
extension or revision on March 31, 2010. It covers about 85 per cent of the
Métis population, which is concentrated in the four western provinces and
Ontario. In its 2009 Budget, the federal government said it planned to
implement a "partnership and results based successor" to the Aboriginal Human
Resources Development Strategy next year.
    Moreover, Métis organizations offer employment services that have greater
impact, such as skills development based on project-based training, than those
offered by the province of British Columbia in the context of its Labour
Market Development Agreement, a parallel program offered in B.C.
    The report says that the fiscal benefits of the Métis Agreements outweigh
the costs even though many positive impacts can't be quantified, such as
improvements to health, poverty and household stability where the Métis lag
the non-Aboriginal population.
    "Métis people want Métis services that are culturally sensitive, less
bureaucratic and where there's lots of cross-referencing of programming," says
Mr. Arsenault. The community-based programs can help address significant
challenges in education and employment as they target the predominantly young,
rural Métis, more than a third of which had not completed high school in 2006.
In that year, too, just under 10 per cent of Métis people had earned a
university degree.
    A more employable Métis population "will play an increasingly important
role in the Canadian economy," the study asserts, noting that Métis are
projected to account for 3 per cent of labour force growth in the 20 years to
2026 despite accounting for only 1.25 per cent of the Canadian population in
2006.
    The report further points out that the Métis are concentrated in
provinces facing significant labour supply shortages and could therefore play
an important role, if measures to boost their employment participation
continue. However, the report cites the need for training and employment to
focus more on employers' needs.

    The report is posted online at www.csls.ca/reports/csls2009-1.pdf




For further information:

For further information: Paulette Roberge, (613) 271-6398,
pgroberge@hotmail.com; English and French media: Jean-François Arsenault,
Economist, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, (613) 233-0268,
jf.arsenault@csls.ca

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CENTRE FOR THE STUDY OF LIVING STANDARDS

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