As a result of partnerships between service providers and the province, it aims to “improve the quality, consistency and accessibility” of these services.

AvenueNB will allow services to be delivered by external providers who can better understand and respond to clients’ needs. The co-operative will tailor programs and services to address gaps in services.

The new approach is intended to increase access to educational opportunities and disability-specific services and support employers in creating inclusive workplaces.

“This co-operative will provide strategic planning and contract management that will allow us to provide a standard level of service and help more clients,” said Trevor Holder, New Brunswick’s minister of post-secondary education, training and labour, in a news release.

“This revolutionary change will help ensure that more New Brunswickers who are living with a disability have a pathway to enter New Brunswick’s workforce.”

Holder said that his department managed contracts with more than 20 external service providers in the past, which caused service delivery inconsistencies, gaps and “significant bureaucracy.”

Now, avenueNB will take over this role and work through a board of directors consisting of sector stakeholders. It will be responsible for key decisions and annual planning, and all service providers will become voting members.

“We are proud to have created the avenueNB co-operative, a collaboration between 22 professional agencies that work with persons with a disability,” said Charles Levasseur, interim chair of avenueNB, in a news release.

“These agencies are crucial to providing people with training, tools, support and opportunities they may require to find fulfilling jobs within the New Brunswick labour market.”

In a news release, Randy Dickinson, chair of the Premier’s Council on Disabilities, said that too many disabled New Brunswickers are unemployed or underemployed, despite wanting to work.

“Getting a job and securing an income opens many doors for a good quality of life, and this new model should result in increased opportunities,” he said.

The province says funding for avenueNB will be reallocated from money currently distributed through the department. Those funds are provided by federal and provincial governments through the Canada-New Brunswick Labour Market Agreements.