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  • 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.

    Certainty: 

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

    Uncertainty:

    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.

    Opportunity: 

    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.

    Certainty: 

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

    Uncertainty:

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

    Opportunity: 

    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.

    Certainty: 

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

    Uncertainty:

    We cannot provide a list of topics in advance.

    Opportunity:

    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
    ASPECT CEO
  • 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.

    Challenges

    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
    ASPECT CEO
  • 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
    ASPECT CEO
  • 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
    ASPECT CEO
  • 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.

    Regards,

    Janet Morris-Reade
    ASPECT CEO

  • 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.
    ASPECT CEO

    Janet Morris-Reade

  • 28 February 2020 11:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Virtual AGM


    Every year ASPECT hosts its Annual General Meeting, either in Richmond or Victoria, but turn-out from our membership has been limited to members from those areas. This time, in our effort to engage with the entire ASPECT membership and to keep costs at bay, we are trying something new: a virtual AGM. The virtual format will allow any member who wants to see what's going on at ASPECT the opportunity to check-in: it will take place on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at 1:30-2:00 pm.


    As always, there is no cost to attend, and the AGM is open to all ASPECT members and their staff. Please RSVP your attendance. Login information will be sent to you along with voting rights for one person per organization. Other national organizations have adopted this style of governance, which is sparking new community engagement from all areas. I'm excited to try it out.  

    Virtual Regional Meetings

    As you know, we held virtual regional meetings in January and February. Thank you to everyone who participated. At these meetings, we received some excellent feedback with several reoccurring comments listed below in no particular order:
    • The contracts being delivered on behalf of the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training have enabled service providers the flexibility they need to serve the clients.  Slight tweaks to eligibility have been appreciated. Service providers feel that they are working in collaboration with the ministry to help people.
    • Marketing services to clients and employers is a growing financial concern. Some contractors are struggling to adapt to the “WorkBC” brand while undermining existing community connections.
    • Programs delivered outside of the WorkBC model are flexible and easier to administer. 
    • The increased administration requirements are a significant cost to service providers.  
    • Contract policy interpretation inconsistent from CAPA to CAPA. 
    • Fears that clients who are not computer literate are falling through newly formed cracks in the system.
    • Rural and remote programming is still underfunded.
    • Managing employer relationships are a challenge as they adjust to a new work environment.
    ASPECT also picked up some great advice on how we can better serve our members:
    • Create a reports page on the website of new research and trends. (Done! See “Sector Reports” on the ASPECT website.)
    • Provide members with information about attracting and retaining employees and define competitive pay. (ASPECT is a part of the Social Service Labour Market Advisory Committee and the final report will be coming out soon.)
    • Provide members with a training portal to access professional development for the sector. (Concept in development; also, professional development opportunities in Aspectives news.)
    The next virtual regional meeting will happen in a few months. We are also starting to put together a regional tour to visit members -- more information coming as soon as it’s available.

    Janet Morris-Reade

    ASPECT CEO
  • 21 February 2020 11:08 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Last Tuesday, I participated in the BC Budget Lock-Up where stakeholders (such as ASPECT) and media get a chance to preview the budget documents, ask questions of public servants, and hear Minister of Finance, Honourable Carole James, present her speech before presenting it in the Legislature. At 8:30, we surrender our phones, sign confidentiality agreements, and gather in a room with other stakeholders and for limited times, media. The process ended at 1:45 when the Minister presents the budget in the Legislature to the public. 
     
    Likely you’ve already heard updates about the budget but here are highlights that affect employment service providers and how you deliver services:

     
    BC Access Grant – In addition to interest-free loans announced at last year’s budget, the BC Access Grant provides up to $4,000 per year for post-secondary studies with two-year certifications and associate degrees now eligible. The government has also extended supports to part-time students. Not only is this good news for ASPECT members who offer training, but also for sector workers who want to upgrade their credentials and prepare for leadership. 
     
    Childcare Access and Affordability – Last year’s budget promised $1.3 billion in affordable, accessible childcare with 22,000 new licensed daycare spaces. Although there have been capacity-building challenges to meet this target, the 2020 budget promises 5,400 bursaries for Early Child Educators (ECEs) and a wage lift for 11,000 ECEs. These commitments, along with an affordable childcare benefit of up to $14,895 per year and a childcare fee reduction initiative of up to $5,400 per year, means that we could see an influx of women entering the workforce. Of course, ASPECT members are there to assist! 
     
    Infrastructure and Job Creation – the government plans to invest $7.4 billion for infrastructure improvements that they estimate will provide 100,000 direct and indirect jobs. This promise, along with supports announced for displaced forestry workers last monthimproved eligibility for supports, and BC Budget Announcement of an increased earning exemption for those on income or disability supports, there are several opportunities for ASPECT members to help.
     
    It was my 5th budget lock up, and I’m delighted to see some issues that were not being addressed before on the list. The barriers to employment identified by our members and advocated by ASPECT to the government are addressed in the budget: increased mental health and addictions support, access to safe and affordable daycare, improvements in transportation, and more affordable housing. 
     
    As we know with financial plans, the devil is in the details of whether the promises are delivered. Because these issues are mentioned and continue to be mentioned, it gives me a reason to be cautiously optimistic about the future of work. 

    Janet Morris-Reade
    ASPECT CEO

  • 14 February 2020 1:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Social Services Sector Forum Report


    The Social Sector Forum brought together 135 representatives from across the province to Richmond on November 15, 2019. This report of the day's proceedings was released earlier this week and it provides an overview of panel discussions, addresses by the Honourable Shane Simpson, Minister Responsible for Social Development and Poverty Reduction, as Chair of the Roundtable, and the table topic discussions.

    Topics discussed that day are similar to what we've been hearing through our ASPECT member regional meetings and also where ASPECT has been focusing our advocacy work over the recent years. Here are some of the top issues:

    1. Staff recruitment and retention and the difficulty for the social care sector to compete with government and institutions.
    2. Regional complexity of delivering services in rural and remote communities.
    3. Collaboration with Indigenous organizations to deliver services.
    4. Building capacity to make collaborative engagement sustainable.
    5. Issues related to procurement and contracting.
    6. Sector compensation.
    7. Sector structure and addressing the Minister's comment that "maybe there are too many service providers."
    In follow up to this day, ASPECT will be attending a Community Social Services Sector Reference Resource Group (CSSSRRG) Meeting in March where these and more issues will be discussed on your behalf. To quote Minister Simpson from page 6 of the report:

    "Government is a part of the sector, not apart from it. We need to develop a relationship that is mature, interactive, based on goodwill." 

    Read the report.


    Reports Page on the ASPECT Website

    At this week's ASPECT member regional meetings, we received a great suggestion: why not have a place to link to all of the sector reports and articles? Although we release reports in Aspectives, if you missed the week a report was released, then you may miss it completely.  As a result, we've now created a Sector Reports & Articles page for you to visit to catch up. We've included articles that have a research component behind them rather than just news media stories.  If you see a report that your employment colleagues should know about, please send us the link to include on our webpage.  

    Correction

    Last week we mistakenly passed on kudos to Catherine Poole and her staff for their work on the Labour Market Information Report. It was actually Chris Johnson, Executive Director of Labour Market Insights, Evaluation and Outreach, and her team who are responsible. Chris has promised me a photo of her team for a future issue of Aspectives so that you can see the people behind this very important work.
  • 07 February 2020 11:10 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    With an excitement once reserved for the Christmas Wish Book, I'm delighted to announce that the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training has released part one of the 2019 Labour Market Report called Good Jobs for Today and Tomorrow. First of all, kudos to Assistant Deputy Minister, Bindi Sawchuk, and Executive Director Program Design and Delivery, Catherine Poole, and their teams for breaking down the extensive Labour Market Report in easier-to-consume information. For you working in the sector, this publication provides your organization with information that is crucial for designing services and supports, attracting funding, and informing outreach to your employer contacts.

    Along with the jobs guide, is a new interactive career search tool on the WorkBC website.
    The full 2019 Labour Market Outlook publication is coming soon, but until then, you can drill down on various data sets on the Labour Market Outlook Data Catalogue.

    The Canadian labour market is changing at break-neck speed: these publications from the provincial government are extremely useful. The jobs guide is easy to read and packed full of timely information.

    Janet Morris-Reade
    ASPECT CEO

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