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New BC Employment Service Model Threatens to Fail Job Seekers, Labour Market

BCACL joined a group of community-based service providers and advocates to issue a press release on BC's new employment service model.

VANCOUVER, March 28 /CNW/ - Community-based service providers and advocates for unemployed workers in BC share serious concerns about changes by the BC Ministry of Social Development to core employment assistance programs which could see current specialized services shift to generic self-serve programs. Provincial service associations have come together to request that the Ministry make targeted changes to the model so that job-seekers and employers are best served.

Gregg Taylor, President of the BC Career Development Association warns, "If you've ever shopped at a big-box store, you get the idea. The new focus on bulk service provision and a hierarchy of service caps will mean that the long-term employment needs of BC job seekers won't be met. We're concerned that the new focus is on moving people along quickly and billing the Ministry for each activity, instead of the individual attention currently provided which leads to long-term employment security for those people and their families."

People who work with recently arrived immigrants are concerned about those populations. "They are expecting 85% of all clients, including immigrants, to be basically self-served, which means no essential one-on-one help, not even an intake interview," says Timothy Welsh of AMSSA. "That's going to mean new Canadians end up in dead-end low skill "survival" jobs, instead of doing work related to the skills Canada brought them here for, and that employers need to fill," he cautions.

Faith Bodnar, Executive Director with the BC Association for Community Living has similar concerns. "People with developmental disabilities fill needed jobs right now - often after additional training and ongoing support is provided," she notes. "Without that specialized support, businesses lose those employees."

Tracy Porteous of the Ending Violence Association cautions, "Women who are escaping violence now can get help to rebuild their lives through a job bridging program. With these changes, they'd have to go to a generic centre, which many may not do because of perceived safety issues."

Taylor continues, "With BC's aging demographics, a coming shortage of skilled labour requires us to get as many people as possible into medium and high-skill employment. Employment programs will play a big part by supporting specialized populations to move into those vacancies and stay there long-term. These changes might move people out the door faster in the short term, but in the long term workers and employers will pay the price," he concludes.

BC's social service associations have jointly requested that the Ministry increase service flexibility, provide two years of "global" funding while the new model is being tested, establish an expert advisory committee and undertake intensive review of how populations are served under the new model, and ensure mechanisms are in place to change the overall model or specific contracts where population groups are under-served.

The final detail on the Employment Program of BC, which is part of the BC Ministry of Social Development, is expected to be released very soon.

Backgrounder available at: http://www.bccda.org/news.cfm

on behalf of:

  • The BC Career Development Association (BCCDA)
  • The Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of BC (AMSSA)
  • The BC Association for Community Living (BCACL)
  • The Ending Violence Association of BC (EVA-BC)
  • The BC Society of Transition Houses (BCSTA)
  • La Fédération des Francophones de la Colombie-Britannique (FFCB)
  • The Federation of Community Social Services (FCSS)
  • ACCESS Aboriginal Employment Services
  • Social Planning and Research Council of BC (SPARC)
  • United Community Services Cooperative (UCSC)