News & Events
Presentation to the BC Budget 2017 Consultations
- October 5, 2016
- Posted by: Janet Morris-Reade
- Category: Uncategorised
ASPECT had the opportunity to make a presentation to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services today. Here is a copy of the full presentation for your information.
ASPECT Presentation to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services
Presented by Janet Morris-Reade, CEO
By teleconference on October 5, 2016 at 9:05am
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I would like to thank you and the Committee on behalf of the Association of Services Providers for Employability and Career Training, also called ASPECT BC.
Despite our provincial scope and representation, despite our rich history of delivery and contributions to communities throughout the province – this is a significant occasion for us to speak with this committee today. It provides hope that our sector will be given future opportunities to contribute to the labour market strategies that will best-serve British Columbians in the coming years.
ASPECT BC represents employment organizations delivering programs across the province. Our members play an essential role to up-skill individuals and provide them with the best opportunity to find and maintain success in the workplace.
Our sector currently serves clients through four Federal-Provincial labour market transfer agreements, and through provincial funding under the Ministries of Social Development and Social Innovation; Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training; Advanced Education, and even Agriculture.
During my cross-province tour this summer and fall to meet with each of our member organizations, one theme dominated all others. Employment cannot be viewed in a silo. Jobs are only one part of the equation.
We all want the same thing. We want a healthy economy with plenty of financially sustainable jobs. We want British Columbians to contribute to that economy through income taxes and disposable income. We want every British Columbian to have access to a meaningful and sustainable livelihood; however, our most vulnerable populations need more assistance than employment in order to maintain long-term success and job retention.
It just isn’t as simple as pairing someone with an available post. Supports need to be in place with the employer and employee to navigate the early days. Clients who have had a prolonged absence from the work force will need ongoing coaching. It may cost more to support them in the short-term, but it increases the rate of long-term success significantly and reduces the probability of those same clients returning for further supports.
With a more holistic approach to programs and services, the employment sector will thrive, as will our economy. So how do we help British Columbians succeed in the work force?
As we have visiting our members, I have been asking the question “what are the barriers to employment for your clients?” The responses have been the following in no particular priority.
- Lack of services for clients with addictions and mental health challenges.
- Lack of affordable housing.
- Lack of transportation for those trying to get to their jobs.
- Difficulties finding affordable and high quality day care.
Our members are telling us that addictions and mental health challenges are impeding their clients’ opportunities for employment. In many communities, social services cuts have been so drastic that if a client does need mental health supports, there are little or no facilities available and those communities that do have facilities, face a lengthy waiting list.
Affordable Housing and Transportation is another Catch 22 that exists in the employment sector.
For many who access the employment services, their choice is to live in town and pay unaffordable rents or live outside of town and have difficulty getting to work. Many do not have driver’s licenses or access to a car. In some communities, public transit is spotty or non-existent and because of the winter conditions, walking and cycling these vast distances year-round is out of the question. Those who cannot find a home near their work must resort to couch surfing and shelters. Although we see this situation covered in the media in urban centres, it is even more pronounced in the smaller communities.
Affordable and available daycare is also an issue.
There are many available retail and hospitality jobs, but daycare is too expensive to pay for with a minimum wage job and too little to support a family on one income. Finding quality childcare, is almost impossible in some communities, which means that a population of British Columbians who want to work and are being left out of the job market. As we head toward an environment when there aren’t enough people to fill in-demand jobs, we are missing out on an opportunity for BC by creating a situation of not only keeping qualified people out of the workforce, but forcing them from keeping their work skills current.
We have four Recommendations for the Committee’s consideration:
- Invest in mental health and addictions services. The employment sector can only do so much to support individuals seeking employment when there are challenges of mental health. We would like to see the provincial government to help get people to work, by providing resources for the clients to access services as they transition to the workforce.
- Continue to fund affordable housing initiatives. Continue to look for innovative ways to house people closer to their work so that they can have sustainable employment.
- Support investments in transportation infrastructure. Especially in rural and remote communities, transportation is a dominant issue.
- Fund affordable quality childcare. Affordable daycare is not just a federal government issue. It needs to be supported at a provincial level.
If the Province wants to meet the employment needs of the workforce now and in the future, an investment needs to be made now in the wrap around services that support the employment sector.
Currently, many of our members are providing these supports for free or having to turn clients away. Public supports for mental health, affordable housing, consistent transportation and quality childcare are needed to help make British Columbia thrive both now and in the future.
I want to thank you for the time that you have offered ASPECT BC this morning and welcome any questions that you may have.