The delivery of employment services in B.C. is changing, and the Creative Employment Access Society and its partners want to be involved.
The Creative Employment Access Society (CEAS), which operates the Job Shop, is putting together a proposal with its partners for a new employment program called the Employment Program of BC, which is funded by the Ministry of Social Development and which will create new one-stop employment centres.
Bruce Brautigan, executive director of the CEAS, told Courtenay council about the new program Monday and asked for a letter of support to strengthen the society’s proposal.
“It’s a large-scale program, which will in April 2012 replace basically all the existing employment programs that are currently being operated by eight different organizations in the community,” he said.
Partner organizations in the proposal include the Adult Literacy and Learning Society, Comox Valley Transition Centre, the North Island Employment Foundation Society, Vancouver Island Vocational and Rehabilitational Services, and Community Futures.
“We’re going in together as a partnership, and we’re putting together our bid as we speak,” Brautigan told council.
In 2009, the federal government transferred responsibility for employment programming to the province under the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Development Agreement, explained Brautigan.
“In the last two years, they’ve done a lot of consultation and a lot of work trying to develop a new model of employment program that they say is more responsive to the needs of the province rather than a big national program,” he said. “As opposed to having a number of separate organizations operating separately and doing certain components of the job service array, they’re now putting them into a major, one-stop centre with the notion that people go in there, and then they go to specialized service agencies if they need them.”
The provincial government will invest $341.2 million in employment services in 2011-12, and the new centres are scheduled to be opened in April 2012, according to the Ministry of Social Development.
“The proposed employment centres integrate all of the services currently offered and will ensure quick and easy access through a single door so that people get what they need to get back into the workforce as quickly as possible,” stated an information bulletin from the ministry. “No unemployed British Columbian will be left behind, as service providers must ensure that everyone has access to the same services, regardless of where they live.”
About 35 jobs in the community could be affected by the new service delivery, including 27 at the CEAS and about six or seven between its partner agencies, explained Brautigan.
“They’re not all at stake, but certainly many would be affected if we were unsuccessful,” he said.
Brautigan told council a letter of support would provide credibility to their proposal.
“One of the things where we are very strong is in our connection to the community, and that’s what we’re seeking today is something from council to support their desire to see us continue doing the work,” he said. “We’ve been doing it a long time, we’re good at it, and we like doing it. We believe that having municipal-level support is very important for our bid and could help us establish that we’re respected and wanted in the community.”
Council did not make a decision Monday.
Coun. Larry Jangula thought Brautigan’s proposal sounded good in theory but was concerned that council was hearing only one side.
Councillors will discuss the issue again next week after receiving more information from Brautigan.