First Impression of the New ‘WorkBC’ Program

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Cuts to job services dressed up as something new and exciting with "a rock-concert themed mobile event, created with the intention to get youth and young adults excited about their future, while also informing them about the various resources and tools developed by the government to support their search for an ideal career." Click photo for details of 'Jobfest'

Up until March 2012, social assistance recipients in British Columbia were required to participate in the BCEP (British Columbia Employment Program), operated here in Victoria by a private company called GT Hiring Solutions. Participants were required to attend workshops on resume building and job readiness, and had an obligation during their first month on assistance to check in at GT Hiring once a day and attend 15 hours worth of workshops.
At the beginning of April, the British Columbia and Canadian governments combined various services into a ‘One-Stop’ format, removing funding from 400 scattered employment centres (such as Spectrum, which is no longer) and into 85 new ‘WorkBC’ centres.
Provincial press releases announced that this consolidation would reduce administration and make things more efficient.
In one press release, Social Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux said of the old employment centres that “not all of them would host the full suite of programs. By consolidating them, the centres will be able to provide the full suite, no matter if it is in a small town or big city,”
Which sounds reasonable, but isn’t entirely true.
I’ve been on social assistance since February. There were not any services available during the month of March, while GT Hiring packed and moved. This was just a temporary thing, and despite my disappointment at not being able to talk to an employment councilor, I was at least spared the obligation to check in every day and attend the 15 hours a week of workshops.
I checked into the new offices yesterday, and was told that they still were not sure what services they were able to offer and what my obligations would be, and I was also told that they have about 25% of the available resources that they used to have in terms of bus tickets, stipends for work clothes etc.
One of the good things that I had heard about the BCEP program through GT Hiring was that when you got a job, they would make sure you had what you need to get there and be prepared when you get there. This was an important resource, because you don’t even have enough money to eat when you’re on welfare, let alone buy workboots. I don’t care how many resume building workshops you attend, if you don’t have the right gear for your job, and you can’t get there, then you stay unemployed.
If only 25% of these resources are now available, then I fail to see how the minister’s statement that the ‘full suite’ of services are still available.
This doesn’t do much to dispel my immediate judgment that this new consolidation is just a way to cut funding, while dressing it up as doing something to help people.
It remains to be seen what level of service we’ll be getting under this new program. So far it’s been lacking. So far it’s been fuck-all actually, but that’s been due to the month of transition. At least I didn’t have to sit through 15 hours of resume workshops to learn (again) how to write a resume that will be ignored.

3 responses »

  1. Hi Chris, I’m an employment counsellor, and luckily NOT working in employment services funded by our dear friends in Victoria. Cutting over half of the province’s programs for unemployed people is NOT what I call an improvement. This is a complete lie: “Finding Work in BC Just Got Easier”: http://209.205.95.211/joomla/ep/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=856:finding-work-in-bc-just-got-easier&catid=55:feature&Itemid=399. Solutions: don’t believe the lies, don’t rely on these fongers to pay your rent, find a way to survive apart from their demon-dollars, vote for someone else next election, harrass these BC “Liberals” and Canadian “Conservatives” (without getting arrested of course) in a peaceful Gandhian way until they are absolutely SICK of people power, call others to join you, listen and believe the message of Rage Against the Machine (RATM), be self-employed if you can, and encourage your fellow islanders to rise up and “take the power back” (another RATM slogan). Governments are never our friend. They only way to peace and success is to NOT rely on them, to PUSH them for change, and make them envy your confidence and success. Serious times require serious action, training and teamwork. Check out these identical blogs for more revolutionary insights: http://sleeplessinturtleisland.wordpress.com/ and http://sleeplessinturtleisland.blogspot.ca. Cheers, Dimitri

  2. I’m having a similar experience, being told now that it could take several weeks before a counsellor can meet with me! Meanwhile, I’m making use of whatever resources I can which isn’t much and doesn’t lead to any concrete action! Even before the consolidation of services was made I had a hard enough time finding respectable employment that matched my skills, talent, ability and intelligence level; most of the time I was doing everything on my own and it seemed like resources were limited as it was. Now, it looks a whole lot worse! I think the plan is to just keep the marginalized, just that: marginalized! BC’s social programs are joke! The government seems to think its just a matter of money, but its not; we need better counselling programs, skills training and job placement programs. The BC Liberals need to go now!!!

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