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  • 04 September 2020 4:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Registration for the ASPECT Virtual Conference opens today and we are excited at the possibilities of delivering our event in a virtual platform. This is our 30th conference and 30th year of ASPECT. It all started with receiving a grant to have the first conference and those in attendance thinking that a provincial organization was needed. Who would have guessed that 30 years ago we would be where we are today?

    The first 100 people to register for the ASPECT Conference will be entered to win one of three $50 gift cards of their choice. Later this month, you will be given an opportunity to select your sessions. Through our events management services, we've now had experience delivering online conferences for other clients and are confident we can offer you a high-quality event. It will be different, but there will be networking and learning opportunities that you cannot find in a face-to-face event. 

    EI Information Inconsistencies

    An issue came up at our member discussion session a couple of weeks ago about the transition from CERB to the new benefits and the need to apply for the new benefits. A number of members shared that clients were getting some conflicting information from Service Canada regarding the need to apply for the new benefits. The cases discussed were people who were EI clients who started collecting the CERB. Some have been told to re-apply for EI and some have been told they don’t need to re-apply as they had already applied for EI and had their application assessed. We are awaiting a response with clarification from the government. I've included this here in case anyone who was not at the member discussions was also puzzled.

    Have a relaxing Labour Day Weekend. You all deserve it!

    Janet Morris-Reade
  • 21 August 2020 11:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The announcement that we were waiting for came yesterday from Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, and the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which was expected to disappear days from now, has been extended for an additional four weeks. The following new programs were announced and will be ratified when the House of Commons sits again near the end of September.  

    The new financial plan is good news for our sector because it gives service providers some numbers to use in calculating employment service benefits for some programs. It may also be good news as those seeking employment have a month more to organize their job search and access support without service providers being overwhelmed by requests. However, the bad news is that there is still no security around the government's plan as it hasn't been debated in Parliament, and the possible political insecurity could sideline the efforts altogether. 

    I am interested in hearing the discussion at next week's ASPECT Member Discussion on Wednesday at 1 pm. I am also curious to see the policy development pertaining to employment contracts and the impact this funding change will have. 

    We live in interesting times indeed.

    Janet Morris-Reade
  • 14 August 2020 11:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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!"

    Janet Morris-Reade

  • 07 August 2020 11:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We are promoting our Values Based Leadership series, presented by Drs. Roberta Borgen (Neault) and Deirdre Pickerell that will start next month. We are also partnering with CERIC for a series delivered by Tannis Goddard. Finally, we are in the midst of a call for proposal for our ASPECT Conference 2020. As I look forward to the year ahead, my goal is to create learning opportunities for everyone who works in employment services and I think we might have the fall covered with more opportunities in development.

    I wanted to point out that Drs. Borgen (Neault) and Pickerell are generously providing another free webinar through CERIC and I have posted a registration link below. 

    In the meantime, please keep sending in your presentation ideas for the ASPECT Conference.  

    Janet Morris-Reade

  • 31 July 2020 10:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    At the July 22nd Virtual Members Meeting, we discussed the current employment conditions within each service provider's community. It was confirmed there what I had been hearing individually, some jobs are going unclaimed. Those without impediments such has health or daycare issues would like to collect the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) rather than seek employment. The question then is, how do we create a compelling enough value proposition to encourage people to find work or to request services and training for future work? ASPECT members expect that once the CERB is removed or changed, there may be an influx of people needing assistance. 

    At this morning's press briefing, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that changes are indeed coming. 

    1. The government is working on a plan to transition those collecting the CERB to the employment insurance program.
    2. Those who do not qualify for EI would be able to access a program that is in development.
    3. The overall plan is to re-engineer the EI program to meet "21st century needs" without increasing EI premiums. 

    In the meantime, we have taken the ideas from our members to create an infographic and social media posts. These are for you to use to spread the message that it is an excellent time to find work, change careers, and access services and support. Please feel free to use the information as you see fit. 

    We are also working on a list of value propositions for employers to use this time to hire. Thanks to all the ASPECT members who provided the content for these documents and for Kim Lauritsen at Community Futures North Okanagan and her helper for making sure the information contained within is correct.

    Go to our website to download this infographic as well as the individual social media posts.

    Janet Morris-Reade

  • 24 July 2020 12:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I am excited to announce that the Call for Speakers and Presenters is now out for the upcoming ASPECT BC Conference on November 5 & 6, 2020.  This is our 30th year of offering the conference and also the 30th anniversary of the formation of ASPECT!

    As you all know, converting to a virtual format takes many considerations and I am confident we have a plan for our conference that will meet the needs of the sector. Also, we are working hard to find professional development opportunities for all who work within our member organizations and the sector at large, i.e., the ASPECT conference is not just for organizational leaders.

    Unlike several other organizations that are spreading their conferences over several days, we have decided to keep the dates that we had for the in-person conference. We have scheduled 30-minute breaks between each session and will use gamification during the event to keep you occupied if you choose to be. If you have to step away from a session, we will also provide recordings afterward. We are encouraging our presenters to use interactive elements such as polling, games, and discussion groups to keep you involved. Also, there will be no expectation to turn your video cameras on, so you can take a break from being "on" all the time. I might suggest that this virtual format might even be less exhausting as the in-person one.

    Below is a copy of the proposed schedule that will provide you with four keynote speakers and up to 24 sessions to choose from. Some speakers are already confirmed, but once the call for speakers and presenters is closed, we'll have a better idea of what will be offered. Be rest assured that we will endeavour to give you the highest quality presentations.  

    The pandemic is giving us the opportunity to use this time to learn and to collaborate while inviting speakers from the world to participate. I hope to see your presenter applications, and when registration opens later this summer, your conference registration, too.

    Janet Morris-Reade

  • 17 July 2020 8:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This week's CEO report comes to you from Creston after visiting ASPECT members in Penticton, Grand Forks, Trail, and Nelson. Thanks to all of you who took the time to talk to me about your COVID pivot toward delivering employment services in new ways. Again, I am astounded at the ingenuity and innovation of the sector that has not only responded to the needs of their community but also meeting the needs of their staff. This crisis has pushed us all to find new imaginative ways to take care of each other.

    The pandemic also allowed ASPECT to participate in a call with Premier Horgan and Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, Honorable Shane Simpson. (Thanks again to Morag Carter at Community Skills Centre in Trail for allowing me to finish the call in their boardroom.) The Premier is consulting with stakeholder groups for advice on how to "Build[ing] BC's Recovery, Together"

    The group (above image) was made up mostly of provincial non-profit social service umbrella organizations. We were given three questions to discuss:

    1. What are some initiatives government can take to address the disproportionate impact on women, youth, Indigenous communities and people from marginalized backgrounds?
    2. In your opinion, what could be the impact of a long-term recovery on the future of work? Economic growth? And the make-up and diversity of BC's economy?
    3. Our economic recovery must be guided by continued commitments to Clean BC, Truth and Reconciliation, addressing inequity, and increasing affordability for all British Columbians. What do you see as the biggest opportunity to recommit to these principles? What is the biggest threat?

    After praising the sector for its quick response to COVID-19 conditions and the generous action of service providers to reach out and serve clients and employers, ASPECT advocated for more support for childcare, connectivity, and access to technology. We also supported the discussion around tax supports to encourage charitable giving, stabilization supports for community service organizations, and living wages and sick leave for staff.

    The public is asked to take part in a short survey to provide your feedback and ideas. BC's community-based employment service providers are perfectly positioned to provide valuable direction. Employment service providers are working with those looking for work and training for the new job market, and are a crucial resource for employers. All, at the same time, seeing the cracks in our social network that have become more significant through the pandemic. I encourage you to participate: the survey will remain open until 4pm on July 22.


    Janet Morris-Reade

  • 10 July 2020 1:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Labour Market Survey results were released today, telling us what we already know except with actual numbers attached. We have seen first-hand how quickly the job landscape is changing. The current unemployment rate is 12.3%, which is up from 13.7% in May. Looking back to February, it was 5.6%.

    According to my contacts in the provincial government, we should be hearing updated labour market information within the next week. At the recent Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training contractor roundtables, we were able to get a quick snippet of information in the graph below from Vicinity Jobs Inc. 

    The recovery shown by these two graphs is encouraging. Also encouraging is that employers are turning to ASPECT members for help, and taking advantage of programs such as wage subsidies when they might not have engaged before the pandemic. We've also heard from our member discussions that some are experiencing success in cold-calling employers to promote their services. Full recovery is a long way off, but it is great to see some light after such a dark period. The ingenuity and pivoting of ASPECT members to thrive in this environment still astounds me! 

    Next week, I will be hitting the road and visiting our members in Penticton, Grand Forks, Trail, Nelson, and Creston.  Such a different member tour from four years ago where I flew places and rented cars. This time will be a full-on road adventure with social distancing, a Spotify playlist, and my youngest daughter practicing her driving. 

    Janet Morris-Reade

  • 12 June 2020 11:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    At this week's member discussion, we talked about the challenge that employers are facing to fill their current job openings as they compete with workers' alternative to stay at home. Safety and access to safe and affordable childcare appear to be the biggest hurdle for those who are hesitant to go back to work, regardless of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) payments. There is some talk that the CERB could be extended.

    During our discussion, members shared how they are helping employers navigate these challenging labour market conditions. Some are involved in their community's "shop local" initiatives, some are helping employers to address job seeker concerns about safety in job postings, some are promoting wage subsidy programs, and some using community stations to advertise available job postings in addition to using social media. The problem remains, however, that while the obstacles to activating the local workforce are in effect, local employers may continue to have difficulty filling positions. 

    Crowdsourcing a Solution

    ASPECT members are the experts in their communities and have connections to the entire landscape of the local labour market. This is your opportunity to put your policy development hat on and brainstorm ideas to tweak policy so that we can get workers taking advantage of the opportunities available. At one of our previous member discussions, someone mentioned a question that they would expect to hear from interviewers in the future, "what did you do during the pandemic?" It would be nice if job seekers had a good response.

    If you have a brilliant "silver-bullet" idea or even just some nudges to an existing policy that would help the current situation, please send it to me. This is a difficult problem, but I'm confident that the wisdom of the ASPECT crowd will prevail!

    Janet Morris-Reade
  • 05 June 2020 1:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The pandemic continues to focus the magnifying glass on social inequities that exist in our society, especially one of racism. As I watch the protests and question my part in contributing to the current climate, I have looked to those within our own ASPECT community for their insight and leadership. Here is a small sampling:

    Racism, prejudice, and inequality have been issues for members as they support those looking for work. It is difficult to build a client's confidence in their upskilling and job search when the society around them continues to tolerate discrimination. ASPECT has taken the pledge for diversity, which is a call to action from BC’s Governor-General, Janet Austin.

    A pledge is not enough. As an organization, we will do our part in supporting our members to continue to do the work they are already doing within their communities. We saw a mind-shift happen through the #metoo movement and I'm hopeful that the protests happening now will do the same for a better understanding and empathy of racism in BC.

    Click on the pledge image to see a video message from Honourable Janet Austin.

    Janet Morris-Reade

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