FREDERICTON (GNB) – As part of Social Assistance Reform 2021, a task force has been established to review disability support services and programs offered by the Department of Social Development, including income support.

“To truly transform service delivery and client experience, it is critical to engage a team of individuals with knowledge and expertise to provide advice and guidance on the development of a plan,” said Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch.

The task force includes representatives from primary and allied health care, the Premier’s Council on Disabilities and the New Brunswick Disability Executives Network, as well as individuals and family members who have had first-hand experience with disability support services and programs. The group met today for the first time and is expected to conclude its work by next spring.

It will advise the department on issues related to enhancing support services and co-ordinating delivery of these services. Members will propose a comprehensive model, including recommendations for implementation.

“The task force will identify gaps and opportunities to streamline service delivery approaches,” said Fitch. “They will also review available literature on the topic of disability support services and explore models which are currently in use in other jurisdictions in North America and abroad.”

This announcement is part of the second phase of social assistance reforms that began last year. The first phase, announced on Monday, involves changes to programs that provide financial support to individuals and families with no other means to meet their basic needs. Through new exemptions, social assistance recipients will be eligible to receive more income each month.

“These changes to the social assistance programs represent an annual investment of $10.8 million, which will help reduce poverty and remove barriers for clients who are struggling to get back into the workplace,” said Fitch.