BC Social Service Providers’ Expectations of the Impacts of the
Implementation of the Proposed BC Employment Program on
Our Populations and Communities.
Prepared by BC Provincial Social Service Associations for the Information of the
Deputy Minister and Senior Staff of the BC Ministry of Social Development.
February 9, 2011
This document was developed collaboratively by BC social service provincial associations and
related bodies (listed on page 9) regarding the BC Ministry of Social Development’s (MSD)
proposed new Employment Program of BC model, which will replace existing employment
services to support British Columbians into appropriate and lasting employment. The
organizations that provided input into this document together represent the vast majority of BC
community social service delivery organizations. We prepared this document to inform the MSD
Deputy Minister and senior staff about the high level of common concerns shared by BC social
service provider organizations about how the Employment Program of BC model as proposed
will negatively impact provincial populations and communities.
The MSD document The New Employment Program: The Model for Serving Specialized Populations
posted in November 2010 describes the model as it is understood by the organizations represented
by this document. The confidence of MSD about how specialized populations will be served is
not matched by community service providers. MSD is providing assurances that post-
implementation processes such as contract monitoring, performance measurement, and
establishment of an expert advisory committee will ensure service quality and quantity. While
post-implementation steps are necessary, social service providers’ focus is on ensuring the model
is best designed to serve specialized populations prior to implementation.
ASPECT identified to MSD late in 2010 three areas which must be changed within the
Employment Program model to ensure that our province receives net benefits from a new “made-
in-BC” employment service system, and that those benefits equitably reach all people and
• The Financial Model - Significantly revise it to ensure it doesn’t force out BC
community-based service organizations.
• The Service Tiers - Revise or remove them to ensure BC residents receive effective
services based on their general and specialized needs, not based on broad service targets.
• The Payments Model - Alter the overly-restrictive payments model so that the main focus
of service providers is on service provision, not on tracking activities.
ASPECT’s primary focus to date, based on its roles and expertise, has been on the first point.
Most adjustments made to the Employment Program model have been about the overall financial
model. The focus of this document and our overall collaborative effort is on the second and third
points, about which MSD has made much fewer concrete adjustments.
Service Provider’s Expectations of BC Employment Program Impacts on People and Communities P. 1
ANTICIPATED IMPACTS ON BC POPULATIONS
Aboriginal people have been identified as a specialized population under the new
Employment Program of British Columbia. As specialists in employment programming and
service delivery for Aboriginal people, BC’s Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training
Strategy (ASETS) agreement holders are the best likely candidates to deliver this piece of the
program. However, it is not yet clear how the ASETS will be included in this model, nor is it
clear what their role will be. Without clarification regarding their role, it is difficult for
ASETS holders to plan or enter into partnerships for the benefit of this program and the
The number of Francophones in British Columbia has continually increased since the early
1960s. Although dispersed in every corner of the province, there are areas of higher
concentration of Francophones – Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, Penticton and Prince George.
Our community, as the rest of the BC population, has diversified, welcoming immigrants
from African and European countries. We expect these migration and immigration trends to
continue and even increase in the coming years, as they are supported and encouraged by
various provincial and federal programs and initiatives.
Under the transfer agreement (LMA) between the Federal Government and the Province of
British Columbia, access to quality employment services in French is guaranteed. Under the
proposed Employment Program, services in French have been categorized as a specialized
service. There are no provisions defining what is meant by access to quality services. In
many respects, the needs of Francophones, whether they are born abroad or within Canada,
are similar to other specialized populations. From this perspective, Francophone service
providers share many of the concerns expressed by other specialized service providers.
Employment services in French have been offered by service providers in British Columbia
for over 20 years with the support of the Federal Government. The Francophone community
has been negotiating with the province for almost four years, in an attempt to guarantee that
current levels of access to quality services provided by existing service providers be
maintained and enhanced under the new Employment Program. The current services provides
an integrated approach that ensures rapid and efficient integration of French-speakers into
British Columbia’s economic, social and community life. The success rate of this integrated
approach is clearly reflected in the statistics.
The proposed model and funding structure puts the services and the service providers at risk –
if these service providers are gone, it will be expensive and difficult to rebuild the expertise
and infrastructures. The impact of the provincial decisions is already felt – last October, five
Francophone employment contracts were either cancelled or not prolonged. Where will
Francophones obtain ready access to quality services in these communities and regions?
What impact do these closures have on the Francophones who wish to integrate, with their
families, into the social fabric of BC and contribute to its wealth?
Service Provider’s Expectations of BC Employment Program Impacts on People and Communities P. 2
For People with Physical Disabilities:
** Service providers for people with physical disabilities were unable to provide a detailed
analysis of what would likely be the impacts of the Employment Program model on that
population in time to be included in this document. But their general expectation is that most
of the concerns about Employment Program impacts expressed by other social service sectors
will at least equally apply to this population.
For People with Developmental Disabilities:
People with developmental disabilities that may present with complex needs have not been
well served in the current typical government employment service model. We have
experienced a lack of capacity both in terms of staff expertise and staffing resources to
implement a customized approach for this target group even in the current EPPD. With the
proposed change to Provincial Employment Central Service there will be a further decrease
of capacity and expertise to serve this target group to quality, sustainable employment.
While partnerships in the new employment centre model are promoted within the network of
existing employment services, CLBC specialized employment programs build on a wealth of
partnerships that extend beyond this network to broader community based support services.
This partnership approach allows for wrap around support that facilitates effective and
successful job placements for individuals with complex needs.
Performance based contracts have typically proven to be quick fix initiatives that have not
served those individuals with more complex needs and in efforts to meet payment targets,
those individuals seen as “difficult” to place are often not served at the same level as the
People may be placed in jobs that are not suitable for them and not sustainable in the long
term due to the inability to provide the up-front, individualized comprehensive career
development that has proven to be successful in the customized employment model.
Canada and BC are recruiting immigrants to fill important roles across our labour markets,
but there are reasons to believe that under Employment Program more immigrants will be in
low-level employment, and will remain in low-level employment for longer periods.
Work BC correctly notes that BC is participating in a “Global Competition for Talent”. Our
labour markets increasingly need immigrants in positions of all types and at all levels. BC
intentionally attracts about 40,000 new immigrants each year, many of whom are highly
educated and experienced and all of whom must undergo the challenging processes of
settlement and integration into an entirely new culture and labour market.
Service Provider’s Expectations of BC Employment Program Impacts on People and Communities P. 3
It is entirely predictable that essentially all recently-arrived immigrants and many longer-
established immigrants will require very specialized supports to understand and operate in
our culture and labour market, “translate” their prior educations and experiences into
appropriate employment here, and understand how to market themselves to BC employers.
The proposed Employment Program seems to assume that 85% of immigrants will be
primarily “self-served” through service tiers 1 or 2, with only the remaining 15% requiring
more intensive services through Tiers 3 or 4. Given that recently arrived immigrants will, for
obvious reasons, be disproportionately over-represented in their ESC service needs, then
assuming that only 15% of immigrants will require Tier 3 or 4 services seems unrealistic.
Additionally the proposed Employment Program Tiers 3 and 4 don’t include most
components of specialized services required by immigrants and provided for many years by
specialized immigrant employment services which are now due to end in 2012.
The Employment Program intends to place everyone into whatever employment they can
attain without addressing their “barriers”. For most recently-arrived immigrants and many
longer-established immigrants this will mean placement into “survival jobs” as the end point
of service – this has been confirmed by MSD senior staff. Soon-to-end specialized immigrant
employment programs assist immigrants into survival jobs as needed, but also support
immigrants into long-term attachment to the labour market commensurate with their
international qualifications. This important continuity of support for newcomers will be lost
under the proposed Employment Program, and it not realistic to expect other BC social
services will be able to compensate for this loss.
Employment Program contracts will be in force for five to seven years, during which time at
least 200,000 new immigrants will arrive. If the Employment Program is under-serving
immigrants (eg: only finding survival jobs) during that whole period, the impacts on BC’s
economy will be significant. The Employment Program model doesn’t seem to recognize the
fundamental role that our governments and employers expect of immigrants in our future
economic success. We will not be living up to our “promise” to immigrants and BC
employers, or realizing the potential positive economic benefits of immigration.
Fundamentally the Employment Program is not a client-centred model for immigrants in
comparison with existing specialized immigrant employment programs due to end in 2012.
the Employment Programs’ primary drivers are quick turnovers, mechanistic processes,
recording of activities, and payments for services. Recent immigrants need time and support
to gain understanding, trust, confidence, and a sense of security within an entirely new
culture. The Employment Program as proposed does not seem to be designed to provide that
continuity of support.
For Victimized Women:
The Importance of Retaining Women-Centred Programs
It is our understanding that:
o the Provincial Government is engaged in a province-wide re-organization of the funding
structure for contracted employment programs, including bridging employment programs
for women who have been victimized
o the 421 employment programs currently funded will be reduced to 72 contracts that will
operate out of 92 “super-centres”
Service Provider’s Expectations of BC Employment Program Impacts on People and Communities P. 4
o all 92 super-centres will be mandated to provide services to women who are victims of
violence among all their other clients
o current bridging programs would be unable to bid directly for super centre contracts and
would be restricted to providing specialized services as a sub-contractor with uncertain
Programs that provide support and assistance to abused women have the following primary
concerns regarding this proposed re-organization relate to:
o the de-stabilizing effect of large-scale re-organization in this sector, with resulting
increased risks for abused women and their children
o the demonstrated need for specialized, integrated services for women who are victims of
Building skills, infrastructure, credibility, and trust within a service sector and within
individual communities are enormously time-consuming and labour-intensive processes.
De-stabilization of this service sector will result in increased risk to women and their children
who are victims of violence. If the planned re-organization takes place, the expertise based in
existing employment bridging programs for women who are victims of violence and the
partnerships that have been developed over many years between these programs and the other
anti-violence programs in their communities will be lost.
For Youth & CAP Clients:
The tier based model is built on the premise that the majority of people are either self serve
resource centre people or Tier 1. Many youth and virtually all CAP people are either Tier 3,
or 4. Although the model acknowledges that Tier 3 and 4 populations exist, it does not reflect
the youth or CAP numbers… and it is very defined nature on how to serve this population
(with minimal service fees and linear service delivery) and does not give the provider the
ability to deliver service to this client group in the best way possible. This model is intended
for short term employment support, not the longer term support that is often needed for both
youth or CAP people – there is not enough money in each of the tiers, to deliver the
programming that is necessary in order to get this client group employed or attached to the
community (for CAP outcomes). Most people who are Tier 0 or Tier 1 are people who are
looking at job search resources at home, not accessing resources in our centres. They are at
our centres, because they need assistance, not only the use of a computer.
The proposed $30 dollar service fees are not reflective of the amount of time needed with
many individuals who present with pronounced secondary issues such as; physical/medical
conditions, financial distress/poverty/hunger/threat of homelessness, women fleeing abuse,
and mental/emotional health issues that significantly impact their employability. These multi-
barriered people require increased time spent with a Case Manager. Youth and CAP people
are often “in the moment”… they have not been coached yet (either because they are young
and have not learned, or because of their personal circumstances) on how to be patient, how
to make appointments, how to show up 10 minutes before an appointment, but these are all
things that we are teaching them in working with them on their employment plan. Many
times, the behaviors that youth exhibit in our centres are those very things that keep them
from engaging in the labour market. These are the things that take the most time, and the
Service Provider’s Expectations of BC Employment Program Impacts on People and Communities P. 5
most effort. In this highly prescriptive model, it does not account for youth or multi-barriered
people who show up late for things, who lose their temper, who do not follow through with
workshops, who have to redo workshops because they did not “get it”… and who require a
huge amount of hand holding in order to be successful. The government may respond that we
can create this, if we chose to, but there is not enough money in the prescriptive billing for
each tier to really make an effective program for youth out of this model.
For All Populations:
Under the new model, the services offered to clients are unreasonably constrained and
dictated by client ‘tiers’, itemized (billable) services, and per client funding caps. We will
lose the block funding of services which allows for a more fluid approach and response to
each client rather than this enforced piecemeal approach.
Front line worker: “How am going to look an unemployed person in the face and suggest
a course of action, say a workshop or two, all the while doing mental arithmetic as to
how much I can bill for that, and whether they have reached their 'maximum' fee.”
The new BC Employment Program mandates programs to focus on getting the unemployed
into any job as quickly as possible. This mandate includes providing the least number of
services possible in the shortest time frame possible. British Columbians deserve the right,
and the program support, to develop a full and reasonable career development plan to prepare
them for suitable and progressive employment, not just survival jobs. This is true for the
highly employable worker, who will receive limited funds and supports in the new model, as
much as to the long-term unemployed person with multiple barriers who will receive more
supports, but within strict limits.
People who have barriers to employment and may not fit into mainstream ESC’s are expected
to be served through itinerant or satellite services. Unfortunately, there is not enough money
to keep existing sites / services in the community where many of these populations are
currently accessing wraparound services. The model simply does not support many different
sites (overhead, admin etc) even when factoring in the variable fees. The options are to either
partner with other services providers to put many multi-barriered people in one place (often a
safety / confidentiality / comfort issue) or partner with other programs whose funding is on
different timelines / ministries, which could put both the programs at risk if one program
loses funding. The other option is to move these people / programs into the ESC with its
overly prescriptive delivery model which does not work for multi-barriered populations. In
addition maximums and averages will be administratively burdensome, taking away from
time spent with people
Another topic of much concern for all BC social service provincial bodies is the proposed
Integrated Case Management system, which will collect much personal information about
ESC clients who require more than “self-services”. We have reviewed research about the
MSD “ICM” database, and completely recognize and agree with the issues identified about
client confidentiality. Mandatory use of the “ICM” will have resultant negative impacts on
client-service provider relationships.
Service Provider’s Expectations of BC Employment Program Impacts on People and Communities P. 6
ANTICIPATED IMPACTS ON BC COMMUNITIES
Under the Employment Program as proposed there will be a dis-integration of a broad array
of services for immigrants, given that current specialized immigrant EAS service providers
also provide many related supports such as settlement information, ESL, family supports,
housing supports, and community connections within holistic service frameworks. While
Employment Program contractors are expected to refer clients to other community services,
holistic suites of immigrant services will in most cases no longer be co-located and integrated
with Employment Program services. These services have been provided “seamlessly” within
immigrant-serving organizations for decades.
Where Employment Program primary contractors hire staff from existing specialized
immigrant EAS service providers, those uniquely specialized service staff will likely
experience “de-skilling” as they work in an office where they must serve all clients and in
which they aren’t immersed in organizations with resources, professional development, and
specialized mandates all focussed on effective immigrant service.
For Victimized Women:
The collapsing of specialized locally-based employment bridging programs focusing
specifically on the needs of women who are victims of violence into a generalist, centralized
model is contrary to everything that we have learned as a result of the tragic deaths of the Lee
and Park families, the 29 deaths investigated by the Domestic Violence Death Review Panel,
and the many other domestic violence tragedies that have occurred in BC since the mass
murder of the Ghakal family in Vernon in 1996. The victimization of women impacts not
just individuals and families, but also the communities in which they live.
For People with Developmental Disabilities:
Community Living BC currently has several specialized employment programs that operate
with a customized and supported approach to realistic employment. These programs are
running at full capacity with a wait list. In the RFI, these employment services were listed as
a referral source to the ESC, leading us to conclude that an internal capacity to serve people
with developmental disabilities was not being considered within the Employment Program.
The loss of this capacity within BC employment services will diminish the capacities of
service providers to provide holistic supports for a population with complex social and
economic needs. When this population does not have effective supports, the impacts can
reach out communities in which people with developmental disabilities live.
The large majority of the Francophone population is of working age, well educated and is
able to fully participate in BC’s economy. (84% over 20 years old) With the proper structure
and adequate support, the talent and expertise of these people will not be lost to the
province.The cuts mentioned earlier will have a devastating impact on French-speaking
clients, as the entire structure will be chipped away and eventually destroyed. Our clients will
loose immediate access to effective employment services and adult education. To
Service Provider’s Expectations of BC Employment Program Impacts on People and Communities P. 7
successfully integrate the job market, people need to connect to community services for
themselves and their family.
It seems clear that the service model developed by the provincial government fails to take
into account of the expertise built in the area of providing French-language services to
French-speakers, helping them integrate more quickly into economic, social and community
life. Closing it means the loss of this expertise for the entire community.
For Youth & CAP Clients:
The existing youth employment centres are often the hub or a partner in a hub for social
services for youth. We are highly connected and/or collocated with all youth serving
organizations in our community and work to support all youth in their employment and life
plan. We see youth all the time, who are lost in the school system, the Ministry for Children
and Families, the probation system and we are the one place that connects all those different
ministries / service professionals together in working on a highly inclusive supportive
employment plan with this young person. This has taken us years of work to establish these
relationships and navigate these complex systems and support these people. Because of the
lack of resources in this new proposed system, it is very likely that youth will be a population
that we may need to include in the larger ESC in order to save costs; thereby, losing this
valuable service for youth in our community.
Youth are not neutral in the labour market. They either actively engage in it, or they detract
from it (ie. Working under the table, committing crimes, panhandling etc). Similarly, with
CAP populations (Tier 3,4) multi-service hubs have been developed to provide integrated
(health, legal, housing, food…) services for this population. In both situations the
Employment Program model speaks to these issues but does not provide the funding
resources to maintain integrated service hubs for these populations.
For All Communities:
The Ministry of Social Development continues to express its opinion that the new
Employment Program of BC model will incorporate and benefit from existing BC specialized
community social service providers. Social service umbrellas know that “on the ground”
there is much confusion and concern about how any specialized service organization can
engage in such a complex framework to ensure they are part of a “winning bid”, and further
how within any one bid they will be able to maintain their service infrastructures and in
particular how they can retain their professional staffing. BC service agencies collectively do
not share the Ministry’s perspective that the Employment Program tendering and funding
model will achieve the collaborative and inclusive outcomes required to maintain effective
services for our populations and communities. They expect that most existing social service
agencies will have their capacities greatly diminished should the Employment Program model
be implemented as it is currently proposed.
Service Provider’s Expectations of BC Employment Program Impacts on People and Communities P. 8
IMPROVING THE MODEL – OUR COMMITMENT
ASPECT has played a leadership role in communication with MSD about the Employment
Program model, with its primary focus on the financial model’s impacts on community-based
social service organizations’ operating capacities. The provincial associations which
collaborated to develop this document bring a complementary focus to that of ASPECT – our
focus is on how effectively the Employment Program model will serve BC’s varied
population groups and support BC community capacities.
Representatives of the organizations collaborating to provide this information to the BC
Ministry of Social Development are prepared to meet as soon as possible with the MSD
Deputy Minister to convey our collective perspective on what steps must be taken to modify
the Employment Program model so it is a positive new direction for BC’s workers,
employers, communities, labour markets, and provincial economy.
This matter is of pivotal importance to the hundreds of community service organizations we
collectively represent, and on behalf of those organizations we are prepared to undertake
additional communications and consultations to positively impact the Employment Program
of BC model.
Content for this document was contributed by:
ACCESS Aboriginal Employment Services
The BC Association for Community Living (BCACL)
The BC Career Development Association. (BCCDA)
The Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of BC (AMSSA)
The Ending Violence Association of BC (EVA)
La Fédération des Francophones de la Colombie-Britannique (FFCB)
The Federation of Community Social Services (FCSS)
This collective communication effort is also informed and supported by:
ASPECT: BC’s Community-Based Trainers
BC CEO Network for Community Living
BC Society of Transition Houses (BCSTH)
Social Planning and Research Council of BC (SPARC)
United Community Services Coop (UCSC)
Contact on behalf of organizations represented:
Timothy Welsh, Program Director
Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of BC (AMSSA)
604 718-2782 / email@example.com.
Service Provider’s Expectations of BC Employment Program Impacts on People and Communities P. 9