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  • 29 May 2020 11:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This week, I have attended several webinars that provide information about surviving the COVID-19 crisis and what the world of work will look like in the coming months and years. Each webinar had advice on how to plan for the future in an unpredictable environment. I was reminded of an article I read called Six Mistakes Executives Make in Risk Management published in 2008 by the Harvard Business Review, written by Nassim Taleb, Daniel Goldstein, and Mark Spitznagel. In it, the authors talk about Black Swan events, which are impossible to predict and how we, as leaders, are making big decisions based on common misconceptions of risk.

    I have, as I’m sure you have as well, noticed the strengths and weaknesses of our leaders throughout this crisis, both politically and within our organizations. It made me realize that leadership is not about knowing how to calculate risk and a cash flow projection, but about doing the right thing and feeling confident with those decisions.

     This very long preamble is my way of promoting our Values Based Leadership series starting this September and will be taught by Drs. Roberta Neault and Deirdre Pickerell. In it, existing and emergent leaders will learn how to build their learning and confidence to make the tough decisions that lie ahead, while at the same time leading by doing the right thing for yourself and your community.

    ASPECT has developed this credentialed online course in response to demand from the social service sector. We have invested in it to offer high value learning for a fraction of the cost compared to other leadership courses. Each class starts at $150 for ASPECT members (slightly more for non-members) per week-long course, which includes online discussions, a live tutorial, and reflective learning supports. Further, these courses qualify for the BC Employer Training Grant – the intake for fall courses opens June 1 (Monday). 
    If you are a leader within your organization with skills gaps or would like to see more leaders helping you navigate this pandemic world, I encourage you to sign up. As we progress through this Black Swan event we find ourselves in; it is now an excellent time to take advantage of government grants and upskill yourself and your workforce. 

    Janet Morris-Reade
  • 22 May 2020 12:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    There's a lot going on right now in the advocacy world. One thing that may not be on your radar is the BC Budget 2021 Consultations undertaken by the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services. This is an excellent opportunity to draw attention to an unfunded or underfunded initiative that you have in your area of service.

    At ASPECT, when we present to the committee we try to address global issues that affect the barriers to employment. In my first submission four years ago, the barriers to employment are and still remain, supports for mental health and addictions, transportation, housing, and child care. We now have programs that are rolling out from the provincial government to support these areas with longer-term strategies in place.

    The COVID-19 crisis is presenting more urgent challenges to employment as well as its services and supports. We have a new list of requests to the Finance Committee:
    • Aggressive investment in connectivity throughout the province.
    • More investment in early childhood education and child care.
    • Investment in tech availability and tech training for those most vulnerable.
    The world of work looks quite different these days, and as we are seeing in some of the news stories posted below, significant long-term shifts being made to the work environment. There is a serious concern, however, that those most vulnerable are being further left behind. Not only is it our responsibility to speak on their behalf but also to speak for all workers as we do our part as employment service providers to re-ignite the provincial economy. 

    Have your say by presenting to the committee by registering online. If you are not able to present or provide a submission, never worry because ASPECT has your back.

    Janet Morris-Reade
  • 15 May 2020 11:53 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As we prepare for the phase 2 of Premier Horgan's Restart BC plan announced on May 6, ASPECT has been working with the Social Services Sector Roundtable (SSSR) reference group to inform next steps for our sector. The government has submitted a draft plan with input from the SSSR. WorkBC has been tasked with creating a more specific plan for our sector, which is great if you are a WorkBC contractor but not great if you are not. We still have work to do there.

    Although I do not have permission to share the SSSR plan, I can share some general information:
    • The Social Sector plan covers K-12 Education, public libraries, child care services, non-residential community-based social services, housing and shelter services, and residential services.
    • The assumptions on which the plan is based recognizes the current challenges as well as acknowledging challenges to the sector had before the crisis.
    • Like the premier's plan, this plan has four stages of recovery and three priority levels, with the safety of those offering essential services being a foundational focus.
    • The plan acknowledges that recovery is a highly complex challenge with an interdependence between client service populations, overlapping services, and funder demands. The intention of the plan is to put the needs of the clients being served before all others.
    Our weekly ASPECT member discussions have been helpful in informing me, and through ASPECT's work, informing government. If you are not able to make it to the weekly meetings, please email me with your thoughts and concerns. The more we know, the more we can help and advocate on your behalf.

    Understanding the Information Available

    At our last member discussion, many on the call shared their plans for expanding in-person services. I am in the process of lining up a WorkSafe BC expert and a virologist to help answer questions for our next meeting on Wednesday at 1pm. In my discussions so far, all questions have been referred to WCB, however, from the conversations I have had so far, they are challenged with the demands. Go to their website for available information.

    Developing a Plan & Checklist

    I love a good checklist and I found this one from the Canadian Association of Independent Businesses. I share it with you here with the warning that sector start ups will differ from each other. The link goes to a Word document that you can open and adjust for your organization:

    Janet Morris-Reade
  • 24 April 2020 11:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I'm delighted to announce an ASPECT webinar on Thursday, April 30 at 1 pm, called Career Engagement in the COVID-19 Context.  This is being presented by Drs. Roberta Neault and Deirdre Pickerell, and thanks to their generosity, we are able to offer it FREE to ASPECT members and at a very low $25 for non-members of ASPECT.  As I write this, we already have 159 people signed up and have recently received confirmation from the presenters to permit us to share the webinar recording with those who are interested.  

    In this webinar, you will learn about Dr. Neault's research on optimism as well as how to stabilize career engagement in chaotic times. Register now, or wait for the recording. There are only 341 spaces available!

    We are developing more low cost or free webinars for the sector. If you have an expertise you would like to share or have ideas of what you would like to see, please contact me.


    You may have noticed this week the Canexus 21 call for presenters. It seems like such a hopeful act that all will be back to before by January 2021. ASPECT is in the process of moving our conference, which is our 30th by the way, to a virtual event. The dates will remain the same (November 5 & 6, 2020), but the format will, of course, change. A call for presenters is coming soon.

    Many of you may know that ASPECT has an events management team that manages events for non-profit clients, charging a small fee to support the work that we do at ASPECT. Our busiest events season is in the spring, which has of course been a financial hit on our resources as some of our clients have decided to cancel, reschedule, or go virtual.  

    Managing a virtual conference is breaking new ground for many of us, including ASPECT, but we have learned that most of the services we offer are still needed whether the conference is in person or not. 

    To that end, ASPECT is offering its virtual events management expertise to those who may be planning a conference or large event. Below i

    s a comparison of what services are needed and what can be offered in a virtual environment.  Call or email Lya Iglesias at 250-891-5384 if you'd like more information how we can help you with your conference.


    Janet Morris-Reade
  • 17 April 2020 11:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I'm a planner. I usually have a plan A, B, C, etc., for most things in my life. It's the way I trick myself into getting excited about sub-optimal future occurrences, and I think it provides me with my Pollyanna attitude about many things. COVID-19 is challenging my "systems" as I try to plan for the ASPECT 2020 conference in November and for ways to support ASPECT members throughout this crisis. Finding certainty within the uncertainty is yielding opportunities for which we can all be optimistic.


    We will have an ASPECT conference on November 5 & 6 of this year. 


    It may be a virtual one because even if the social distancing measures are lifted, ASPECT members may not feel comfortable flying to the event nor have the financial capacity to send staff.


    We can draw on speakers from around the world to present and more people may be able to attend if travel expenses are not a factor.


    When the COVID-19 crisis is over, service providers will be extremely busy helping people find and prepare for employment. 


    We don't know when to expect the end of the crisis or the end of this wave of infections.


    It may be a good time to recruit for positions and upskill existing staff to get their career development certifications or prepare staff for leadership within your organization. Career developers will be an important part of getting our economy back up and running. See the Canadian Career Development Foundations' report: Career Development Perspectives on  COVID-19.


    ASPECT will continue to hold weekly virtual member discussions throughout the crisis.


    We cannot provide a list of topics in advance.


    As we have seen in past calls, members are sharing information with each other, brainstorming solutions, and strengthening their relationships with each other. The next member discussion will be on Wednesday, April 22 at 1 pm.

    It is certain that we will make plans, it's uncertain what those plans will look like, but the opportunities are just waiting to be discovered. The unknown opportunities are reason enough to be optimistic about the future of the sector.

    Janet Morris-Reade
  • 09 April 2020 12:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Our weekly ASPECT member discussions continue on Wednesdays at 1pm. Last week we discussed some of the fatigue being experienced by our essential service providers and shared some ideas.


    1. Clients with complex mental health challenges are even more at risk from the stress of the crisis. Frontline staff are feeling the fatigue associated with becoming a counsellor in addition to a career developer.
    2. Some staff working from home must also care for others or homeschool their children. Those without similar home responsibilities may be experiencing workload inequities.
    3. Clients without computers or computer skills are difficult to serve in the virtual environment and may fall further through the cracks.

    Suggested Solutions

    1. Support staff with opportunities to share their feelings in a safe environment through online discussions, using humour, and provide training. Members reported that keeping a regular check-in schedule using Microsoft Team, Zoom, a dedicated Facebook group, or creating virtual coffee rooms, humour boards and games, as well as providing staff with training are helpful. Other helpful resources are the CERIC "Thriving Through Chaos" webinars and the Science of Well Being course.  Some members have supported their staff by providing them with a food gift basket, access to counselling, and ergonomic supports for their home office.
    2. Managers should acknowledge the inequities exist and provide staff with latitude to how and when they complete their work, understanding that now everyone will be able to deliver a full 8-hour work day. One member suggested providing a paid "siesta" time during the day for staff to take time away from work. 
    3. At the very least, service providers are proactively checking in with their clients by telephone. Through community contacts and funders, members are sending their clients the computer equipment needed and providing dedicated technical support to help their clients go online. Some are using Google Duo to share desktops and communicate with their clients and workshop cohorts. ASPECT member Neil Squire Society offers a "Computer Comfort" program giving refurbished tech hardware for those who self-identify with a disability. Also, as a part of their WorkBC Assistive Technology Services, you can access training supports through a weekly webinar. Contact Nate Toevs for more information.
    It is difficult to distill all of the great advice and conversations from a 1-hour member discussion to this space. My apologies to those on the call that said something poignant that I did not capture here. Our next member discussion will take place on Wednesday, April 15 at 1 pm. I look forward to seeing you there.

    Janet Morris-Reade
  • 03 April 2020 12:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    From our ASPECT member discussions these past few weeks, I have seen service providers undertake amazing feats. Not only have they been transforming their services and supports into an online format, but also they are working to support their staff and communities; all while keeping their focus on those who need their services. We should take a moment to reflect upon and appreciate the exceptional work being done.

    Thank you to the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction (SDPR) for being so responsive to WorkBC contractors by providing assurances of possible interim funding and flexibility in the allowable supports for clients. If you are a prime WorkBC contractor, please take a moment to inform your subcontractors with what is going on. We have all been scrambling to make changes to delivery that would, during standard times, take months but have now taken weeks. Communication with your networks is equally important. SDPR is currently developing a job matching system for employers and contractors. ASPECT has asked that anything developed also includes services offered outside of the WorkBC model.

    Thank you to the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training for making payment processing a priority during this time. ASPECT has submitted a request to delay some of the reporting deadlines on the less crucial reports in acknowledgement of the challenges contractors are currently facing. I hope to hear from them soon.

    Thank you to the many members who are attending our weekly discussions. Their support to each other and to the advocacy work that ASPECT undertakes on your behalf is appreciated. Also, thank you to ASPECT members who are paying their membership fee invoices. We understand it is a difficult time for our members and appreciate those who can support us through this crisis.

    Part of ASPECT's COVID-19 response has been to post resources to our website. This week we have added some webinars and resources. Here's a partial list of what you can find there:

    I understand that we are in difficult times but I wanted to dedicate an issue of Aspectives to acknowledge the outstanding work being done in the sector.  Well done!

    Janet Morris-Reade
  • 27 March 2020 12:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In a meeting on Wednesday, the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction confirmed that employment services and supports are considered an essential service and that it is the ministry's priority that service providers remain viable. Members at our weekly virtual discussion applauded the Minister and public servants for their response and leadership. I have shared this positive feedback and thanks on behalf of our members involved with ADM Chris Brown. 

    ASPECT continues our advocacy work by staying in contact with other funders to ensure that service providers have the information they need.

    The federal government announced this morning enhanced employment supports to keep people employed as well as no-interest (for the first year) bank loans up to $40,000 in which under particular circumstances, $10,000 can be forgiven. The devil is in the details which are expected on Monday. The hope is that those laid off earlier this month will be rehired, removing the strain put upon the employment insurance system. 

    ASPECT members are integral in helping clients and employers through this crisis as well as playing a crucial role in helping the economy rebound in the coming months. Not only are we workers and employers, but we also provide services for workers and employers. It's a tricky situation to be in, but with the essential service designation and the enhanced supports, I am optimistic about our future.

    Janet Morris-Reade
  • 20 March 2020 12:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Our New Reality

    This week I feel like I've lived a year within a week trying to adjust to our new COVID-19 reality; I can only imagine how hard it has been for many of you. Our goal moving forward is to ensure that you are all supported in the work you do.

    To this end, we have created a new webpage on our site as a means to collect information, updates, and resources for our members to use. Some of the sections are for ASPECT members only, but the majority of information is available to anyone who is interested. We are also keeping a list of landing pages being created by other organizations that have information that might be of use to our members and stakeholders. Your feedback and sharing of resources are always appreciated.

    Weekly Virtual Member Discussion

    Our last COVID-19 discussion on March 17th was helpful to share pandemic strategies and changes to how ASPECT members deliver services. We found that having an opportunity to hear from our community of service providers helped build confidence to make some of the difficult decisions that needed to be made.  

    For this reason, we would like to host weekly ASPECT member discussions at 1 pm on Wednesdays to address some of the issues that emerge throughout this crisis. 

    During each discussion, we will update you on new developments and address a topic of mutual benefit. The topics will be chosen from the feedback we receive from our members.  

    Please plan to attend and RSVP weekly as the opportunities become available.


    Janet Morris-Reade

  • 13 March 2020 12:37 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Many of us woke up to a new reality this morning as more public health directives suggest how our lives might look in the coming weeks. How do we protect our families? Our staff? And our clients? Especially in an ever-evolving environment. Here’s what we are doing at ASPECT:

    1. ASPECT Member Discussion: Following the Annual General Meeting on Tuesday at 1:30, we will facilitate an online discussion for ASPECT members. RSVP here to join the discussionPlease send us your questions and comments in advance to help us focus on the discussion. We will also welcome questions during the conversation and share what we can after the meeting.
    2. Meetings with Funders: We are meeting individually with funders of the employment contracts you deliver to find out what we can do as a sector to support those we serve and the contractors themselves. The health risks and the economic risks are at the front of mind.
    3. Emergency Board Meeting: The ASPECT board of directors is holding an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss further actions.
    4. Sharing Resources: We have already had members coming forward to share their organization’s pandemic plans and virtual resources. Once vetted with funders, these resources will be made available to our members. If you have a pandemic plan that goes beyond what is required in your contract, please consider sharing it with your colleagues. ASPECT can help with the distribution.
    We are developing opportunities to share information and resources with our members. In the meantime, the mantra of the day is “flattening the curve” and to practice social distance guidelines. Most importantly, listen to the scientists.

    Janet Morris-Reade

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