Meeting with Federal Officials – Women’s Network News Release

Our friends and partners at Women’s Network PEI share news from a meeting this morning with Egmont MP Gail Shea, Minister of National Revenue, and Dr. Kelly Leitch, Parliamentary Secretary for HRSDC.

Groups supporting women and youth, meet with federal government representatives

CHARLOTTETOWN – Representatives from local community organizations met with federal government officials to discuss issues affecting women and youth on PEI today.

Executive directors from Women’s Network, Adventure Group, PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women and Boys and Girls Club of Charlottetown met with Minister Gail Shea and Dr. Kelly Leitch, Parliamentary Secretary to Diane Findley, Minister Responsible for Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC) in a roundtable discussion focusing on employment barriers, programs and services.

Groups identified the ongoing and significant needs of clients. They shared with Minister Shea and Dr. Leitch, stories about women and youth who face multiple barriers to employment including low literacy and/or education levels, mental health challenges, alcohol and drug addiction and homelessness. Groups also shared successes and spoke about the positive impact their organizations have on the community.

Jessica MacKenzie, of the Boys and Girls Club spoke about the employment-based services they provide to youth on PEI. She highlighted the Survival Center, which provides basic supports to homeless and at-risk youth on PEI. “We may have up to a dozen youth accessing our facility per day,” said MacKenzie. “We have some youth who are sleeping in ATMs and some who are moving from house to house. Both circumstances pose risks for youth. We try to support young people to find safe and stable housing as well as jobs.”

Another local organization that serves both youth and women, Adventure Group, talked about the challenges of working with clients who face multiple barriers to employment. With over 200 graduates of life skills programming, Executive Director, Roxanne Carter-Thompson said, “I’d like to say the demand from programming is decreasing, but it is not. We are seeing increasing issues of drug addiction with young people. Resources are really stretched.”

Sara Roach-Lewis from Women’s Network PEI, spoke about their programming that supports women to move from poverty to a sustainable livelihood. “Projects like Trade HERizons, which is designed to increase the number of women in non-traditional trades and technology on PEI, meet some of the labour market needs, particularly in growth industries like Bioscience and IT on PEI. Unfortunately, we are unable to meet the demands of women interested in Trade HERizons because our funding to do this work runs out in March.”

Finally Jane Ledwell from the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women
spoke, noting that as an organization with a provincial mandate and focus, their concerns are about interactions between federal and provincial programs and services. The Advisory Council hears in particular from women who fear changes to employment insurance will negatively affect their families. “The programs and services HRSDC provides directly to Islanders and their families, and the programs for women and youth they support through groups like Women’s Network, Adventure Group, and the Boys and Girls Club of Charlottetown are vitally important to Islanders’ success and well-being,” Ledwell says, “I welcome the opportunity to seek clarification on issues of employment insurance and youth programs funded by HRSDC.”

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