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.