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Category "Social Development and Poverty Reduction"

10Jul

Project breaks barriers, creates access to affordable menstrual products

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People will soon have easier, more affordable access to menstrual products with the launch of the United Way Period Promise research project.

Through a $95,000 B.C. government grant, the project will distribute menstrual products to 12 non-profit agencies that serve vulnerable populations throughout the province. The agencies will make them easily accessible to clients from July 2019 to July 2020.

The project will collect quarterly data on the number of people served and products used, how the lack of access to menstrual products because of financial limitations, known as “period poverty,” affects people’s lives and how addressing the issue can benefit communities.

“Period poverty creates barriers and stigma, and leaves people isolated,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “The United Way’s project will use the knowledge and experience of local organizations already working closely with vulnerable people. This research will help us better understand how we can create solutions that will make a difference.”

Always and Tampax have partnered with the United Way to provide menstrual products at a significantly reduced rate, allowing the United Way to increase the amount of participating non-profit agencies. The increase will broaden the project’s reach and help the United Way create a more robust research report to assist in addressing period poverty in British Columbia. The report will be presented to government in December 2020.

The grant is part of a larger shift in government toward better supports and services for the people who need them most. It also aligns with TogetherBC, the Province’s first poverty reduction strategy, with guiding principles of affordability, opportunity, reconciliation and social inclusion. This project demonstrates how government, the non-profit sector and the business sector can work together to find local solutions to complex poverty issues.

Addressing poverty is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus, and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

Quotes:

Mitzi Dean, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity —

“Having a period is a part of life for more than half our population, and not being able to afford basic hygiene products can be devastating. Tackling period poverty closes the gap on gender inequality. By providing affordable menstrual products, those who menstruate will have the freedom to participate fully in life’s activities.”

Michael McKnight, president and CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland —

“United Way is all about making our communities more accessible for everybody, and we’re excited to work with the provincial government, community agencies and sponsors to help solve such a personal challenge that so many people face. The Period Promise research project is just one more way that we are working with a variety of partners to make where we live healthy, caring and inclusive.”

Nikki Hill, co-chair, Period Promise campaign —

“The simple truth is that people who can’t afford menstrual products are often going to community agencies to find them, and sometimes they just aren’t available. The government’s commitment to work with the United Way Period Promise campaign shows that they get it, and that they are looking for solutions that will make access to tampons and pads easier for everybody who needs them. Their leadership should be applauded.”

Sussanne Skidmore, co-chair, Period Promise campaign and secretary-treasurer, BC Federation of Labour —

“For the BC Federation of Labour and the labour movement, working with the United Way on Period Promise has just been an extension of the work we do to make our province better. Period Promise is only enhancing our commitment to helping vulnerable people live and work with dignity across B.C., and we’re proud to be involved.”

Barbara Wood, board president, Kiwassa Neighbourhood House —

“This initiative and the Period Promise campaign help reduce menstruation stigma and contribute toward greater equality for women, trans and non-binary people. We hope that facilitating access to free menstruation products will reduce barriers faced by community members needing to access support and live with dignity. Thanks to the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction and the United Way of the Lower Mainland for leadership. Kiwassa is proud to be a part of this important initiative and sharing our learning on its impact.”

Learn More:

Find out more about the United Way Period Promise campaign: https://www.periodpromise.ca/  

Read TogetherBC: B.C.’s Poverty Reduction Strategy: https://www.gov.bc.ca/TogetherBC

To read more about other poverty reduction grants this year, visit:


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8Jul

Training program helps people gain experience, secure forestry jobs

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More than 100 people will get training and work experience in the forest sector, giving them opportunities for job success and improved lives, through $3.3 million in provincial government funding.

“One key way to reduce poverty is to open doors for people to new jobs and careers,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “This program, through training and work experience, will prepare people for a wide variety of forestry jobs, putting them on the path to better opportunities.”

On behalf of government, Stillwater Consulting is delivering the Advanced Forestry Training program in three communities: Cranbrook, Kamloops and Nanaimo. Students will earn 11 different industry certifications, including silviculture surveyor certification, occupational first aid – level 3 and basic chainsaw operator. The program includes a three-week job placement with local forestry employers.

“Our program gives participants knowledge, skills and certifications in different areas of forestry in just 19 weeks,” said Aaron Byng-Hall, project manager, Stillwater Consulting. “Our graduates become environmental technicians, recreational trail builders, silviculture surveyors and wildland firefighters. For someone looking for opportunities after a mill closure, the program provides a great way to expand on what they know and turn that into a new career.”

“In light of recent record-breaking wildfire seasons, there is an increased demand for people who can work in the woods,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

The Advanced Forestry Skills Training Program is recruiting students for a July 22, 2019, start date in Kamloops and an Aug. 12, 2019 start date in Cranbrook and Nanaimo. Overall, 36 students per city can participate, with a total of 108 spaces. People interested in applying can contact WorkBC Offices in Cranbrook, Kamloops or Nanaimo.

Quotes:

Brianna Henderson, Stillwater training program graduate —

“Taking this program definitely changed my life and propelled me into my career. I’m now a junior forestry technician with Atlas Information Management, and getting that job was 100% a result of the Stillwater training. It can be hard to get into forestry if you don’t come from the industry, but after the program I was so much more confident in going to apply for a position like that. Overall, I’m just really thankful that this program exists. It has opened up a world of opportunities for me.”

Tim LaRade, senior project manager, Nupqu Development Corporation —

“Stillwater Consulting’s Advanced Forestry Skills Training Program is completely unique in B.C.’s forest industry. It’s practical, it’s hands on and most importantly, it sets graduates up with the skills they need for immediate success once they join the working world. When our new employees come to us with these skills already, it saves us a lot of training time on our end.”

Shane Holley RFT, general manager, Maple Leaf Forestry Ltd. —

“We’ve hired several graduates of the Advanced Forestry Skills Training Program at Maple Leaf Forestry who initially completed the program’s three-week job placement with us. It’s a great way for both us and the student to get to know each other and make sure the fit is right. We find Stillwater graduates to be well-trained, confident and armed with the skills and certifications we’re looking for on our team.”

Quick Facts:

  • The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction is providing $3.3 million through the Project Based Labour Market Training stream of the Community and Employer Partnerships (CEP) program. CEP’s goal is to increase employment and work experience opportunities in communities throughout B.C.
  • Approximately $15 million will be invested in CEP projects around B.C. in 2019-20.
  • To be eligible to participate in the Advanced Forestry Training Program, students must meet employment insurance eligibility requirements and live in the city or surrounding areas of Cranbrook, Kamloops or Nanaimo.

Learn More:

Learn how Community Employer Partnerships are helping local communities: www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships.aspx

Learn more about project-based labour market training: https://www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships/Project-Based-Labour-Market-Training.aspx

Find out more about Stillwater Consulting: https://www.stillwaterconsultingltd.com/

Find out more about the Advanced Forestry Training Program and learn how to apply:

Learn more about WorkBC and employment insurance eligibility: https://www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/WorkBC-Centres/Who-Should-Visit-a-WorkBC-Centre.aspx

Connect with WorkBC:


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3Jul

Policy changes put people first

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For people struggling with poverty, small changes can make a big difference.

The first of a series of policy updates by the Government of British Columbia will remove barriers and make it easier for people to get help when they need it most.

The policy changes that came into effect on July 1, 2019, were the focus of a roundtable discussion that Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, hosted with poverty reduction stakeholders and advocates.

“Reducing poverty is about more than broad strokes and big system changes,” said Simpson. “It is also about looking closely at existing policies that, while smaller in scope, can make a lasting impact on the life of British Columbians. It’s about asking ourselves whether these often longstanding policies are helping or harming people. These policy changes, as well as additional changes we will make later this year, are a move away from the mean-spirited policies of the past and toward increasing respect, dignity and opportunity for everyone.”

The updated Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction policies include:

  • decreasing work searches from five weeks to three weeks;
  • ending penalties for families providing room and board to a family member;
  • expanding access to the identification supplement;
  • expanding access to and simplifying the application process for the Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers category;
  • eliminating the “transient” client category;
  • removing the $10,000 asset limit on a primary vehicle;
  • increasing asset limits for people on income assistance; and
  • expanding the moving supplement for people to move anywhere in B.C.

When people cannot afford to obtain personal identification or are required to sell their vehicle to get onto assistance, they face additional and unnecessary barriers. These types of harmful policies get in the way of accessing services like banking, health services, housing, food, school and/or completing daily tasks, like driving to school or work. These simple and supportive changes will allow people to access essential services and keep them from falling further and further behind.

The changes are part of TogetherBC, B.C.’s first Poverty Reduction Strategy. The name TogetherBC reflects the most effective way to reduce poverty in B.C.: strong partnerships with government, non-profits, businesses, First Nations and Indigenous organizations and communities will help reach the people who need assistance most. These changes came from conversations with non-profit organizations, advocates and people with lived experience that illustrated the harmful impact these policies had on the people they were supposed to support.

If people do not have their basic needs met, it is almost impossible to put together other pieces like health, education and employment. Breaking the cycle of poverty is about updating existing policies and creating new ones that rebuild a strong system of supports and services. These changes are part of a larger shift in government to a culture built on empathy and inclusion — one that puts people first.

Quotes:

Trish Garner, community organizer, BC Poverty Reduction Coalition (BCPRC) —

“Our income support system should be there when any one of us may need it, just like our public health care, so measures to reduce barriers to access are a move in the right direction. On behalf of the BCPRC, we congratulate the government for these small changes, which signal a culture shift at the ministry, and we hope to see more of these changes in the future to move from a punitive to a supportive approach. Increasing the asset limit, including for cars, will help people transition back off the system by not plunging them into a deep hole just to access support. We will continue to push for meaningful increases in the rates to complement these measures and rebuild our social safety net.”

Jonny Morris, chief executive officer, Canadian Mental Health Association of BC (CMHA BC) —

“CMHA BC welcomes the recently announced changes to B.C.’s Employment and Assistance Regulations that came into effect on July 1. Removing the financial penalty for adults living with parents will benefit people with mental health and substance use problems whose parents may be key sources of inclusion and support. The elimination of discriminatory eligibility criteria that barred people with substance use related health issues from accessing some benefits is a welcome change that ends a longstanding and harmful approach. These changes and others will provide people experiencing mental health and substance use related health issues with improved access to existing income and disability assistance benefits, which we know supports their well-being.”

Doug King, executive director, Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS) —

“On behalf of TAPS, this is an important first step in restoring the income and disability assistance process with dignity for all applicants. We’re very happy to see important changes to the moving supplement in the midst of a housing a crisis in British Columbia. It’s important for low-income British Columbians to have the support of the ministry when they find themselves in transition or without a home. We are looking forward to more changes in the future, so that this process can be made more fair and accessible.”

Learn More:

For a detailed description of each policy, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019SDPR0047-001258

Read TogetherBC: British Columbia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/about-the-bc-government/poverty-reduction-strategy


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27Jun

Supporting successful lives through independent communication

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Adults with severe communication disabilities will be supported in living with independence and as full participants in their communities through $9.3 million for augmentative communication technology and professional support.

The Province will provide the funding over three years to Communication Assistance for Youth and Adults (CAYA) to update aging equipment and client systems, and to continue helping people with severe communication disabilities.

“Speaking aids help people with communication disabilities to overcome barriers to full participation in their communities,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “This funding supports CAYA’s important role in providing services and technologies that help hundreds of British Columbians to communicate and participate equally in all aspects of their own lives.”

CAYA gives a voice to people through a provincewide program that supports adults aged 19 years and older who require an augmentative alternative communication system due to speech that is not functional for daily communication. Over the past three years, CAYA has provided new or replacement communications technology to about 820 clients annually.

“This new funding ensures that adults in B.C. living with communication disabilities, as a result of conditions ranging from autism to ALS, will continue to have the supports and technology to communicate independently with their families, co-workers, friends and neighbours,” said Jeff Riley, program manager, CAYA.

“Communication assistance is more than just handing out devices,” said Glenda Hyatt Watson, a CAYA client. “It is also equipping people with specialized strategies and supports to deal with challenging situations, such as when you find yourself in a serious health-care situation without access to your communication system.”

The funding was announced at a CAYA demonstration and information session for alternative and augmentative communication technology, highlighting B.C.’s diversity and the importance of accessibility for everyone in the province.

Learn More:

B.C. government accessibility: www.gov.bc.ca/accessibility

Communication Assistance for Youth and Adults (CAYA): https://cayabc.org/

CAYA client stories: https://www.cayabc.org/client-stories/


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26Jun

Fire mitigation project extended to help more people

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Vulnerable homeowners in areas threatened by wildfire can access free FireSmart advice and support from a government-funded job creation project supported by the United Way. 

Sixteen people will work over the summer to help seniors and persons with disabilities become FireSmart by preparing and protecting their homes from the threat of wildfires in the communities of Ashcroft, Cache Creek, 100 Mile House, Williams Lake, Clinton and Quesnel. This includes educating people about how to make their homes and property safer and removing vegetation that can fuel a wildfire.

To promote safety for people and communities, homeowners will also receive fire prevention materials and a resource list for assistance and support. The project, originally scheduled to end in April 2019, has been extended by four months to meet community need and to provide more job seekers with more opportunities.

“Connecting people with new skills and opportunities is part of our government’s focus on creating good jobs,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Community-driven projects like this one benefit participants, communities and the labour market, while creating a safer environment.”

The project provides extensive training in the formal FireSmart assessment process. The Thompson Nicola Cariboo United Way offers this service for free so people in wildfire-prone parts of the province have help protecting their home from potential fire threats. The crews also remove possible dangers, known as fire fuels, such as bushes, small trees or other organic matter, and provide information on how homeowners can further protect their property.

“There is a high demand for skilled workers to provide advice, support and labour in helping prevent the devastating loss of homes during the wildfire season,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness. “Training local people in fire mitigation will help meet the need for skilled workers in this and related fields.”

The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction provided $729,498 through the Jobs Creation Program stream of the Community and Employer Partnerships (CEP) program. CEP funds projects that increase employability levels and share labour market information.  

“In being able to provide FireSmart activities at no charge to vulnerable people in communities impacted by wildfires, those homeowners feel better prepared and less stressed,” said Monica Johnson, fire mitigation project manager, United Way Thompson Nicola Cariboo. “The training and experience we provide to the participants are relevant and definitely increases their employability. We’ve had several participants exit the program because they’ve gotten jobs.”

Quotes:

Clayton Flanders, participant, 100 Mile House Fire Mitigation Job Creation Program –

“This program brings quality changes to both your personal and your professional lives. Not only does it provide important courses needed by future employers, what you learn in the fire mitigation training provides greater safety not only for your own home and neighbourhood but your local community. Thank you for the opportunity to make a big difference not only in my life, but for the others who now feel safer in their own homes.”

Ken Wiebe, homeowner, 108 Mile House –

“We were evacuated 15 days in the 2017 fires. There are people out here who would be absolutely helpless if that happens again. The work is very necessary.”

Florence and Morris Gran, homeowners, Quesnel –

“We are two senior citizens who qualified for the fire mitigation program. Al and his crew of three came to our ranch yesterday and today. They cut limbs, cut junipers, raked and worked steadily. He did not just supervise but worked hard alongside the young men working with him. And we are so grateful. This program is a real asset for seniors.”

Quick Facts:

  • Approximately $15 million will be invested in CEP projects throughout B.C. in 2019-20.
  • Job Creation Partnerships are one of five Community Employer Partnership programs available throughout the province.
  • To date, since the start of the project in August 2018, 22 people have received training and work experience.
  • Project participants have completed 264 FireSmart assessments and 220 mitigations. The goal is to complete 100 more. 

Learn More:

Learn about how Community Employer Partnerships are helping local communities:  www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships.aspx

Learn more about Job Creation Partnerships: https://www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships/Job-Creation-Partnerships.aspx

Find out more about Thompson Nicola Cariboo United Way: https://www.unitedwaytnc.ca/

Learn more about FireSmart: https://www.firesmartbc.ca


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17Jun

Policy changes help break the cycle of poverty

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On July 1, 2019, the following policy changes take effect to help build a better B.C. for vulnerable British Columbians, making life more affordable and supporting them to overcome social and economic barriers:

Reducing access times: The work-search period will be reduced from five weeks to three weeks, while returning applicants will continue to complete the three-week work search. These changes do not impact applicants who are already exempt from work search requirements.

Ending penalties for families providing room and board to a family member: Clients who pay room and board to a parent or child while on income assistance currently do not receive the same level of benefits as those in private room and board situations. Now, families will be allowed to receive up to the full room and board payments (i.e., support and shelter allowance) when providing room and board to an adult child or parent on assistance, without a financial penalty, similar to those living in a private room and board situation.

Expanding access to the ID supplement: The identification supplement is available to individuals, through hardship assistance, to ensure they can meet the ministry’s identification eligibility requirements when applying for assistance. The supplement is being extended to all income and disability assistance clients, in addition to hardship assistance clients, to ensure they can continue to meet ministry eligibility requirements and/or access other important services within British Columbia (e.g., BC Services Card, banking, community services and programs).

Expanding access and simplifying the application process for the persons with persistent multiple barriers (PPMB) category: Expanding access to the PPMB category by removing restrictions that required people first be on income assistance for 12 out of 15 months and prevented access for people with addictions. The application process has also been simplified for clients and staff.

Elimination of the “transient” category: Eliminating the “transient” category to ensure persons without a fixed address, no dependent children and who are not considered to be taking up permanent residence in the community, are eligible to receive the same supports as other people on income assistance.

Allowing people to keep their vehicles: The $10,000 asset exemption limit on a primary vehicle will be removed for people on income assistance, allowing all clients to keep their primary vehicle, regardless of value, without impact to their assistance.

Higher asset limits: Asset limits for people on income assistance will be increased from $2,000 to $5,000 for a single person and from $4,000 to $10,000 for couples and one or two parent families, allowing people on income assistance to keep more of their money and build their assets.

Making relocating easier: Expanding the moving supplement for moves anywhere in B.C. when clients are moving to lower-cost housing or are evicted for any reason (including lawful and unlawful evictions and the existing circumstances of rented accommodation being sold, demolished or condemned). The expanded supplement will also assist with storage costs, if necessary, to preserve the family’s personal belongings while they are moving. Clients will also be supported when they incur moving costs prior to receiving ministry approval in exceptional circumstances.

Expanding access to nutritional supplements: Registered dietitians, as well as medical doctors and nurse practitioners, will be able to submit documentation on behalf of their patients for all nutritional supplements, including all diet supplements (including the high-protein diet), the monthly nutritional supplement, short-term nutritional supplement, tube feed supplement and infant formula supplement.


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11Jun

People facing homelessness to get local support from grants

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People facing homelessness will receive help through grants that support strong, sustainable planning for local groups and organizations working on the front lines in British Columbia communities.

The Province is granting $6 million to the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC) for a Homelessness Community Action Grant to help groups address homelessness in their towns and cities. The grants will also support organizations with a provincewide focus to explore better ways of meeting the needs of particular groups of people that have a higher risk of experiencing homelessness.

“Preventing homelessness is a critical part of TogetherBC: BC’s Poverty Reduction Strategy,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Through these grants, we will build partnerships with local organizations and help people facing homelessness to prevent it from happening in the first place.”

SPARC BC will distribute the Homelessness Community Action Grants to groups and organizations over the next three years as a one-time grant to successful applicants. The chosen projects will build on local resources and knowledge about homelessness and its causes, increase public awareness and support, and respond to gaps in services for people experiencing homelessness. 

“Local organizations and non-profits are at the front lines of the homelessness crisis, and they have been doing great work creating partnerships to address homelessness at a local level,” said Lorraine Copas, executive director, SPARC BC. “This grant will support the sustainability of the work as they continue to make positive change.”

Through the Building BC: Rapid Response to Homelessness program, the Province is investing $291 million to build 2,000 homes throughout B.C. and providing annual operating funding to provide 24/7 staffing and support services. Nearly 1,400 of the homes are complete.

“Homelessness touches virtually every corner of our province and affects at least 8,000 individuals on any given night of the year,” said Jill Atkey, CEO, BC Non-Profit Housing Association. “Combined with the historic investments in affordable housing now rolling out and a rapid response to homelessness through new supportive housing, this additional $6-million investment has the potential to help communities co-ordinate their supports for people experiencing homelessness.” 

TogetherBC, the province’s first poverty reduction strategy, was released in early 2019 and included a newly created Homelessness Coordination Office that will work with partners across government and in the community to deliver a co-ordinated and proactive response to homelessness.

“Homelessness is a complex issue that requires many solutions. The issues people face are different across communities and demographics,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Poverty Reduction. “We can only prevent homelessness by working together. This grant supports communities and organizations on the ground who are dedicated to finding local solutions to preventing poverty.”

Addressing poverty is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus, and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

Quick Facts:

  • The Homelessness Action Grant application form will soon be available on the SPARC BC website.
  • TogetherBC, the Province’s first poverty reduction strategy, was released in March 2019 as a roadmap to reduce overall poverty by 25% and cut child poverty in half over five years.
  • Through the Building BC program, the Province works in partnership to build homes for people individuals and families, seniors, students, women and children leaving violence, Indigenous peoples and people experiencing homelessness.
  • More than 20,000 new homes are completed, under construction or in the approvals process in communities throughout B.C. as part of a $7-billion investment over 10 years in housing affordability.

Learn More:

Find out more about SPARC BC: https://www.sparc.bc.ca/

TogetherBC, B.C.’s first poverty reduction strategy:
ttps://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/initiatives-plans-strategies/poverty-reduction-strategy/togetherbc.pdf

Homes for B.C., a 30-point Plan for Housing Affordability in British Columbia:
https://www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2018/homesbc/2018_homes_for_bc.pdf

Building BC: Rapid Response to Homelessness program:
https://www.bchousing.org/partner-services/Building-BC/rapid-response-homelessness

A map showing the location of all announced provincially funded housing projects in B.C. is available online:
https://www.bchousing.org/homes-for-BC


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10Jun

Renters facing eviction get support through rent bank funding to Vancity

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Renters facing short-term financial difficulties will soon get more help and avoid evictions with new funding for community rent banks.

Rent banks provide emergency low-cost or no-cost loans to help renters facing eviction. As part of Budget 2019, the Province granted $10 million to the Vancity Community Foundation (VCF), a non-profit foundation associated with Vancity credit union, to develop a sustainable, provincewide rent bank system. Vancity has been supporting rent banks in communities for over a decade and will consult with existing rent banks to develop a sustainable provincial program.

“Preventing homelessness by helping people avoid eviction is key and rent banks play an important role,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “The Province is contributing this funding to support a sustainable network of rent banks to help people in B.C., and I look forward to hearing about the consultation, and the plan that Vancity and the existing rent banks will have in place for the long term.”

VCF and Vancity are working with existing rent banks to better understand their operational needs, discuss best practices, identify service gaps and examine expanding the rent bank model to more communities throughout B.C.

Existing rent banks already have access to funding from the provincial grant to ensure their immediate needs are met and their work is sustainable. Following the consultation, funding will go toward expanding a B.C.-wide system so tenants experiencing short-term financial crisis can be supported, regardless of where they live.

“People with lived experience of these issues are guiding this work,” said Catherine Ludgate, senior manager of community investment, Vancity. “We are taking a consultative approach with the rent banks to assess how they can expand service across the province, so more people can access funds and avoid homelessness.” 

Rent banks support the goals of TogetherBC, the provincial poverty reduction strategy. Implementing a B.C.-wide rent bank system was a recommendation of B.C.’s Rental Housing Task Force, following consultations with landlords and tenants throughout the province.

The funding builds on other improvements government has made to support renters in B.C., including cutting the annual allowable rent increase, introducing stronger protection for tenants during renovations or demolitions and enhancing eligibility and benefits under the Rental Assistance Program for families with children and Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters.

“Housing security is a priority for the BC Green Party and the provincial government,” said Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands and a member of the Rental Housing Task Force. “Rent banks offer a level of security for renters and landlords that doesn’t currently exist, and alongside the task force recommendations, will help to create a stronger, more supportive rental market for British Columbians.”

Addressing poverty and homelessness is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

Quotes:

Spencer Chandra Herbert, chair of the Rental Housing Task Force and MLA for Vancouver-West End —

“We know how expensive, disruptive and stressful evictions can be for everyone. We need to be proactive if we’re going to reduce homelessness. Rent banks help keep people in their homes and get back on their feet, while ensuring the rent gets paid. That’s why I helped found Vancouver’s Rent Bank. They work.”

Allison Felker, interim executive director, VCF —

“We’re using our financial tools and expertise to build capacity for rent banks, ensuring they have the ability to meet the needs of our communities.”

Kellie Carroll, executive director, the Network of Inner City Community Services Society and the Vancouver Rent Bank —

“The staff at the Vancouver Rent Bank are pleased that the funds that the provincial government is providing will contribute to the long-term sustainability of rent banks in B.C.”

Melissa Giles, director of programs, Mennonite Central Committee and the Fraser Valley Rent Bank —

“Through the funding, the Province has made clear the important role of rent banks in helping at-risk people receive the critical support they need to remain housed and off the streets. Working together as a coalition, we are committed to see these funds used efficiently in the support of existing rent banks and the expansion of the program into new communities in B.C.”

Learn More:

TogetherBC, B.C.’s first poverty reduction strategy: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/about-the-bc-government/poverty-reduction-strategy

Renting in B.C.: https://www.renters.gov.bc.ca 

BC Housing Rental Assistance Programs: https://www.bchousing.org/housing-assistance/rental-assistance


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6Jun

TELUS grows Internet and Mobility for Good programs to support 25,000 more British Columbian families and youth

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More low-income British Columbian families will now have access to low-cost high-speed Internet, and more youth leaving foster care can now stay connected to their vital support networks through the expansion of TELUS Internet for GoodTM and TELUS Mobility for GoodTM, in partnership with the Provincial Government and Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada.

“Across our province, there are countless families and children in need of support. Through programs like these, and in collaboration with the Provincial Government and Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada (CAFC), we are changing these realities to ensure that more British Columbians are connected to the tools, people and resources they need to be successful,” said Darren Entwistle, President and CEO of TELUS. “To date, we have offered thousands of families across British Columbia access to low-cost, high speed Internet through TELUS Internet for Good, and today we are proud to expand this program to more families receiving income and disability assistance through the Province, ensuring more kids have access to the Internet at home and to the same digital opportunities as their classmates.”

TELUS Internet for Good offers low cost, high-speed Internet to families with children currently receiving income or disability assistance from the provincial government. Eligible families will receive a letter from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction with a unique PIN code, enabling them to activate TELUS’ offer of Internet 25 for $9.95 per month for two years. The program also includes access to a low-cost refurbished computers, and online safety training.

“Many people can’t afford the basic technologies we often take for granted, like Internet access. We know that children who live in homes without Internet access have a lower graduation rate,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Through TogetherBC, BC’s Poverty Reduction Plan, our government is working in partnership with companies like TELUS to help people access technology so that they have the tools they need to be successful and participate in their community. Partnerships like this one are an important way to reduce poverty and connect people with opportunities.”

“We are also expanding Mobility for Good, which began in partnership with the provincial government to provide kids aging out of foster care a free smartphone and plan,” continued Entwistle. “Now, in partnership with CAFC, we are extending this vital lifeline to more than 9,300 youth in British Columbia, better preparing them to begin their independent lives feeling safer, more connected and better prepared for a successful transition to independence. Together, by leveraging technology, social innovation and human compassion, we are making a meaningful difference in the lives of underserved and vulnerable citizens across the province.”

TELUS Mobility for Good first launched in British Columbia in 2017 in partnership with the Provincial Government, followed by Ontario and Quebec in partnership with CAFC. Today, TELUS and CAFC also announced they are expanding this program to Manitoba and New Brunswick. With this expansion,TELUS and CAFC can provide 20,000 youth transitioning from care with the opportunity to access a smartphone and two-year TELUS mobile plan at $0 per month, including unlimited nationwide talk and text and up to 3GB of monthly data usage. While TELUS is providing the service to youth for free, the bills will appear in the youth’s name to help them build positive credit and gain the skills required to manage their finances in the future. At the end of the two-years, they will have access to a low-cost $35 per month plan for an unlimited duration. This program is administered by Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada, the country’s leading charity dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth growing up in the child welfare system.

“With the touch of a screen, smartphones can connect you to a whole world of possibilities,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “We want youth aging out of government care to share in those opportunities. It’s why we have programs and partnerships like this to give them the tools they need to find a job, home or college, stay connected to their friends and support networks and succeed as independent adults.” 

“Without the support of permanent families, youth transitioning out of care are often ill-equipped for life on their own and a smartphone is critical to helping them stay connected and achieving independence,” says Valerie McMurtry, President and CEO, Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada. “Working together with TELUS, we will be able to reach more vulnerable young people in British Columbia and meet an urgent need that enables youth to search for somewhere to live, look for job opportunities and stay in touch with friends and vital support networks.”

For more information on the TELUS Mobility for Good Program or to apply, please visit: www.cafdn.org/for-youth/telus-mobility-good/. For more information on TELUS Internet for Good and other giving initiatives, please visit telus.com/community.

About TELUS

TELUS (TSX: T, NYSE: TU) is one of Canada’s largest telecommunications companies, with $14.5 billion of annual revenue and 14.0 million subscriber connections, including 9.7 million wireless subscribers, 1.9 million Internet subscribers, 1.2 million residential voice and 1.1 million TELUS TV customers. TELUS provides a wide range of communications products and services, including wireless, data, Internet protocol (IP), voice, television, entertainment, video and home and business security. TELUS is also Canada’s largest healthcare IT provider, and TELUS International delivers business process solutions around the globe.

In support of our philosophy to give where we live, TELUS, our team members and retirees have contributed over $690 million to charitable and not-for-profit organizations and volunteered more than 1.3 million days of service to local communities since 2000. Created in 2005 by President and CEO Darren Entwistle, TELUS’ 13 Canadian community boards and five International boards have led the Company’s support of grassroots charities and have contributed $72 million in support of 7,000 local charitable projects, enriching the lives of more than 2 million children and youth, annually. TELUS was honoured to be named the most outstanding philanthropic corporation globally for 2010 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, becoming the first Canadian company to receive this prestigious international recognition. For more information about

TELUS, please visit telus.com


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6Jun

Building a dragon boat gives job seekers new carpentry skills

by admin

Fifteen job seekers have gained new boat-building and carpentry skills through a work experience project focused on this year’s Dragon Boat BC Festival in Vancouver.

The province provided $288,643 to Dragon Boat BC to create a dragon boat building program that helped unemployed and at-risk people develop marketable skills in boat building, finishing carpentry and painting. The group created a full-scale dragon boat prototype and a fully finished boat that will compete in the 2019 Concord Pacific Dragon Boat BC Festival from June 21-23, 2019.

“This program brings together skilled workers and people experiencing unemployment looking to add new skills to their resume,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Dragon Boat BC recognized an opportunity to help people gain work experience and expand community sport participation. It’s these innovative partnerships and a community commitment that help create more opportunities for people in our province.”

Both groups worked closely with a project team led by an aerospace engineer, project manager, professional shipwright, multi-generation canoe carver and paddlers. The teams used high-tech and modern aerospace materials to develop a new high-quality, lightweight and B.C.-built design.

“All of the program participants showed drive and determination,” said Ann Phelps, executive director of Dragon Boat BC. “It isn’t an easy thing to learn a new skill, and everyone who helped us build this boat worked hard to gain transferable experience that will support them in their employment path. The funding gave us the opportunity to introduce people to new skills and a new sport, and build something we can share with the community.”

The boats will be used to support community paddling programs in B.C. to give more people an opportunity to try the sport and become part of a growing community of paddlers.

“I knew that this program would help me build a stronger resume, but I didn’t realize just how much it would change my life,” said Angela Gleeson, program participant. “My time here has grown into a full-time position with Dragon Boat BC and I can say first-hand that other participants, and now friends, have gone on to work in jobs because of the life skills and resume-building work that we accomplished together here.”

Funding for this and other projects is provided through WorkBC’s Community and Employer Partnerships (CEP) program. CEP aims to increase employment opportunities for unemployed British Columbians through partnerships, research and innovative job creation projects.

Quick Facts:

  • Approximately $15 million will be invested in CEP projects throughout B.C. in 2019-20.
  • Since the program began in 2012, more than 381 CEP projects have helped local communities, employers and people looking for work.
  • Job creation partnerships are one of five CEP streams available throughout the province.

Learn More:

Learn about how Community and Employer Partnerships are helping local communities:  www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships.aspx

Job creation partnerships: https://www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships/Job-Creation-Partnerships.aspx

Dragon Boat BC: https://dragonboatbc.ca/

2019 Concord Pacific Dragon Boat BC Festival: https://concorddragonboatfestival.ca/


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