With the announcements related to the transition away from the CERB to EI and another yet-to-be-named support, a familiar uneasiness came over me. When I tried to place that feeling I realized that it was the same one I had last March and April as we waited for the policy and implementation details for the creation of the CERB. The biggest difference between now and then is our proven resiliency and experience with transitioning systems. We've got this!
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Diversity Inclusion, Honourable Carla Qualtrough answering questions about the CERB transition in the House of Commons. Click on the image to follow the link to the video from Global News, August 12, 2020.
At the last two weekly member discussions, we talked about the challenges in delivering services during the transition which will officially start at the same time as many employment training programs and supports. How are EI weeks going to be calculated? How do we negotiate supports when we can't determine client income? Will I have to re-do the intake process when the policies are changed? And, will participants lose their much-in-demand program space as we wait for verifications? One thing that our meeting revealed is that we are all dealing with similar questions and until the federal government releases the details, we are all in the same boat, including our funders.
Meeting with SDPR
On Thursday, ASPECT President Val Meany and I met with staff from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, who administer the WorkBC contracts. Acknowledging that they are in the same information vacuum as everyone else, we shared the concerns from our members and some possible scenarios. I am delighted to report that they are already working on it and in discussions with their federal and pan-Canadian counterparts. Assistant Deputy Minister Chris Brown and his Executive Director of Program Policy & Development, Ian Ross, and Executive Director of Operations, Val Beaman are commended for their leadership and creative approach to finding solutions to problems that we have never encountered before. As we all know, the devil is in the details and SDPR appreciated our report from the frontlines.
Check out the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' deep dive into the CERB to EI transition numbers and analysis.
ASPECT Member Discussion Epiphany
At this week's meeting, one member shared her gratitude for having the weekly meetings. She is new to her position and was relieved to hear that she is not the only one without answers to some of the questions encountered in her work. These discussions are a safe environment to share ideas, ask questions, and become informed about what is happening throughout the province. On the calls, we have a diverse group from all corners of the province and all positions within organizations. As one Job Developer (I think) said, these calls are not just for managers. Not everything is applicable to everyone at every moment of the call, but regardless of who you are, you will learn something to inform the work you do. We will continue these calls weekly at 1 pm on Wednesdays.
With so much information and support within the sector, I am confident that we will thrive throughout this pandemic. In the meantime, try on this mantra, "you've got this!"