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Category "Social Development and Poverty Reduction"

19Mar

Creating opportunity in Prince George with B.C.’s new poverty reduction strategy

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An innovative Prince George program will provide training and create work opportunities, which are central to TogetherBC, the Province’s new poverty reduction strategy.

“Willing and capable people who want to work find the confidence and the opportunity they need to reach their goals through programs, such as The First Peoples Hospitality Program,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “This is the kind of project that is at the heart of TogetherBC. It builds skills and supports people in their communities.”

The First Peoples Hospitality Program, run by LaKeCoRe Management & Training through WorkBC, is a 26-week program that provides students with 18 weeks of essential employability and occupational skills training, such as strategies for success, computer skills and hospitality operations training, as well as six weeks of on-the-job work experience with local industry partners. The students then have two weeks of followup and job-search support to prepare participants for employment in the hotel and hospitality sector in the Prince George region.

Up to 20 local young adults will receive a high standard of training in an industry that is part of the fabric of Prince George’s economy. The program has partnered with local hotels and inns to help ensure participants will receive satisfying job opportunities upon completing this intensive training program.

“The First Peoples Hospitality Program is focused on creating training opportunities for local Indigenous people who are not just looking for a job, but a career path that is fulfilling,” said Lawney Chabot, president, LaKeCoRe Management & Training. “Through this program, we are able to individualize training for each participant to make sure they are reaching their potential and on their way to sustainable local employment.”

The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction has committed approximately $196,000 in funding for this project through the Community and Employer Partnerships (CEP) program. CEP funds projects that increase employability levels and share labour market information.

Darven Michell, a participant in The First Peoples Hospitality Program, said, “This program is giving me the confidence to get out there and find a stable and secure job, knowing that I have the skills I need to get a job that I am actually excited about.”

The project was announced during a followup announcement in Prince George about the Province’s first poverty reduction strategy, TogetherBC. British Columbia has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, yet the province still has a high rate of poverty, reflecting a deficit in regional economic development and unfair wages, in addition to a backlog of need for access to basic education and training skills.

“Community plays a major role in reducing poverty,” said Barbara Ward-Burkitt, executive director, Prince George Native Friendship Centre. “We need to make sure people have the supports and services they need here at home and ensure that they feel included and valued by their communities.”

Two guiding principles of TogetherBC are reconciliation and creating opportunity for people, especially those experiencing physical, social, financial and structural barriers. Government will continue to support projects that reflect these principles in Prince George and throughout the province.  

Quick Facts:

  • TogetherBC: British Columbia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy is a roadmap to reduce overall poverty by 25% and cut child poverty in half over five years, using a 2016 baseline.
  • The strategy’s key priorities include the new B.C. Child Opportunity Benefit, increases to the minimum wage, ChildCareBC making child care more available and affordable, income assistance and disability assistance rate increases, and leveraging federal initiatives and supports.
  • TogetherBC is built on four guiding principles:
    • Affordability
    • Opportunity
    • Reconciliation
    • Social inclusion
  • Since 2012, the Community and Employer Partnerships program, through WorkBC, has helped over 1,675 job seekers benefit from work experience and has funded more than 300 projects throughout the province.
  • Two groups of eight to 10 participants will be accepted into the program.
    • The first group started training Nov. 26, 2018, and is scheduled to complete the program on April 5, 2019.
    • The second group will begin training April 15, 2019, and complete the program by Oct. 11, 2019.
  • The program must meet an 80% completion rate, as well as an 80% satisfaction rate with the project.

Learn More:

WorkBC’s Community and Employers Partnership program:
https://www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships.aspx

To read TogetherBC: British Columbia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/initiatives-plans-strategies/poverty-reduction-strategy/togetherbc.pdf

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


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18Mar

Province launches first poverty reduction strategy, TogetherBC

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British Columbia’s first poverty reduction strategy, TogetherBC, outlines programs and initiatives that will help reduce overall poverty in the province by 25%, and cut child poverty in half, over the next five years.

“Together, we can build a fairer province by bringing down barriers and giving people the services and supports they need to break out of the cycle of poverty,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “TogetherBC is our roadmap for a better British Columbia, where everyone, regardless of their background or income, is treated with dignity and has access to opportunity.”

“For too long, too many people in British Columbia have been left out and left behind,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Poverty Reduction. “With TogetherBC, we’re tackling the discrimination and stigma that keep people from reaching their full potential so we can build a province we can all be proud of – one that’s more inclusive and more affordable for everyone.”

Using a 2016 baseline, the strategy aims to lift 140,000 people out of poverty, including 50,000 children. Further poverty reduction goals will be established as these targets are met.

Developed with feedback received through an extensive provincial consultation, the strategy is anchored by a number of key initiatives including the new B.C. Child Opportunity Benefit and Childcare BC, as well as other actions that will increase household incomes.

TogetherBC ties together actions government has taken to increase affordability, increase access to opportunity and reduce poverty since 2017, under six priority areas:

  1. affordable housing
  2. supports for families, children and youth
  3. expanding access to education and training
  4. more opportunities for people
  5. improving income supports
  6. investing in social inclusion

A Poverty Reduction Advisory Committee has been appointed to advise the minister on matters relating to poverty reduction and prevention. This advisory committee  includes advocates, experts, Indigenous peoples and people with lived experience from around the province.

This committee also serves an important oversight role. Under the Poverty Reduction Strategy Act, government is required to report out on progress to reach its five-year targets each year, starting in 2020. The committee will include a letter in each of these reports, outlining its views on progress made and progress required.

“People created poverty, and it’s up to people to solve poverty,” said Sarah Brownlee, a member of the committee. “I have experienced poverty first-hand, I have seen my friends and family experience it and I have seen the destructive consequences of lack of opportunity and access. As the poverty reduction strategy moves forward, I will be making sure that the voices of those with lived experience are represented and heard.”

“Poverty reduction is about putting people and communities first,” said Catherine Ludgate, chair of the committee. “It is good for individuals, families, communities and our economy. Creating opportunities for people to participate fully and with dignity requires us to invest thoughtfully in programs, policies and procedures to tackle poverty. I look forward to supporting government in this critically important work.”

B.C.’s first poverty reduction strategy is a shared priority developed in consultation with the BC Green Party caucus, and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement. The strategy includes the work of the Fair Wages Commission and Basic Income Expert Committee, work that will continue to be reflected as the strategy evolves and is updated in coming years.

“If we are going to be everything we can be, then we must address poverty,” said Simpson. “After so many years of social priorities being ignored and underfunded, we know we can’t solve this overnight, but we have set the course and I look forward to working across all sectors to address the breadth and depth of poverty. Poverty is a complex problem, yes, and it’s one that we can solve.”

Quick Facts (2016 Market Basket Measure):

  • British Columbia has one of the highest rates of poverty in the country and has for decades; it also has the second-highest overall poverty rate in Canada.
  • About 40% of people living below the poverty line are working.
  • B.C.’s child poverty rate is above the national average, with approximately 99,000 children living in poverty in B.C.
  • Children who live in single-parent families are more than three times more likely to live in poverty than children in two-parent families.
  • The Poverty Reduction Strategy Act, which embedded the poverty reduction targets and timelines in law, was passed unanimously in November 2018.

Learn More:

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

Advisory committee members’ biographies:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/about-the-bc-government/poverty-reduction-strategy/advisory-committee

Read the consultation report, What We Heard About Poverty in B.C.:
https://engage.gov.bc.ca/app/uploads/sites/242/2018/07/WWH_Report-PovertyReductionStrategy_FINAL.pdf

A backgrounder follows.


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6Feb

WorkBC improvements help people get training, find good jobs

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Changes to WorkBC will offer better services for people who need support to re-enter the workforce, access training opportunities and find good jobs.

“Many people trying to find work face barriers to opportunity. They need a hand overcoming those barriers to take the next step to meet their goals,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “That’s why we are refocusing WorkBC on delivering results for people. Improving accessibility and moving to more personalized supports will make it easier for more people to find good, stable jobs so they can provide for themselves and their families.”

WorkBC provides employment services to people at centres throughout the province and online through WorkBC.ca. People can find local and provincial job listings, workshops, skills assessments and targeted programs that include training, work experience and wage subsidies.

Service improvements under the new model include:

  • increasing the number of WorkBC centres to 103 locations, up from 84;
  • moving to an outcome-based funding model that makes people’s success in the job market a priority for service providers;
  • extending eligibility for specialized WorkBC services to anyone who has paid into employment insurance (EI) for five of the last 10 years and removing EI eligibility barriers;
  • helping people find a better job if their hours are unstable, or if the work is not in line with their skills;
  • providing an additional $9 million in direct supports like skills training and helping people access tools so they can pursue a career in the trades; and
  • improving services in rural communities by consolidating administrative catchment areas and freeing up funding for direct supports for people and more WorkBC centres. 

WorkBC centres are operated by not-for-profit, for-profit and public organizations that specialize in employment services. More than 150 organizations deliver WorkBC services in B.C., supporting more than 50,000 people each year.

Improving access to training and employment services is a part of government’s work to reduce poverty and increase opportunities for people in B.C., and is a shared priority with the B.C. Green caucus and part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement. The Province’s first poverty reduction strategy will be introduced in early 2019.

In addition to the changes, two WorkBC programs will now be offered provincially, providing consistent, reliable services for people no matter where they live:

  • The Neil Squire Society will deliver assistive technology services through a resource centre, in partnership with WorkBC centres and online. The program offers adaptive technology to people with disabilities to open up employment opportunities and help them thrive in the workplace.
  • Douglas College will deliver apprentice services provincially. Services include processing financial support applications and help for apprentices to collect employment insurance benefits while in school.

Quotes:

Queenie Choo, CEO, S.U.C.C.E.S.S —

“S.U.C.C.E.S.S. is honoured to be selected as one of the service providers to deliver WorkBC employment services. We look forward to collaborating with the ministry, the business sector and community stakeholders to deliver inclusive and client-centred services that support British Columbians to achieve sustainable employment.”

Tom Burnell, CEO, Open Door Group —

“Open Door Group is excited to continue our work in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction in helping British Columbians prepare for, find and keep employment. Building on the foundations of the past seven years, WorkBC will continue supporting diverse job seekers and local labour market needs through flexible and accessible services.”

Val Meaney, executive director, North Island Employment Foundations Society —

“The focus on job sustainability under the new contracts will make a big difference for the people accessing our services, as well as for employers in our community who will benefit from a more stable workforce. The new model also allows us to be more flexible in how we respond to community needs as they change over time.”

Jocelyn Carver, executive director, Kootenay Community Development Centre —

“Kootenay Community Development Society is pleased to be the WorkBC contractor serving the Boundary, West and Central Kootenay region, and we’re excited to deliver WorkBC services with our partners — all of whom have been successfully delivering the program since 2012. Our clients will benefit from this continuity of service, our organizations will benefit from the expanded community of practice and our whole region will benefit from the continued provision of this critical program.”

Quick Facts:

  • A request for proposals for WorkBC employment services contracts was issued in July 2018 and closed in September 2018.
  • The new model is the result of an evaluation of WorkBC services that included consultation with clients and WorkBC contractors as well as an independent review.
  • The proportion of WorkBC contracts and funding delivered by the not-for-profit sector will increase by 8% beginning April 1, 2019.
  • Each year, the Province invests $249 million for employment services offered through WorkBC centres. In total, more than $287 million will be invested through WorkBC programs in 2019-20, which encompass WorkBC centres, assistive technology, apprentice services and the Community and Employer Partnerships program. Funding is through the federal government’s Labour Market Development Agreement, along with $29 million from the Province.

Learn More:

For information about supports available through the WorkBC employment services program, visit: www.workbc.ca

To read a factsheet about how government is improving services at WorkBC, visit: http://news.gov.bc.ca/factsheets/improving-services-at-workbc

To read the backgrounder, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/BG_SDPR_26d.pdf


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1Feb

New labour market data to increase opportunities for people

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The Province and the Surrey Board of Trade are helping Surrey employers meet the city’s growing demand for skilled workers through a new labour market study that will increase employment opportunities for people and support Surrey’s vibrant local economy.

“As one of B.C.’s fastest growing cities, Surrey is planning now for tomorrow’s labour market needs,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Funding through WorkBC’s Community Employer Partnerships program will provide new labour market data that will have lasting impacts for Surrey employers, local businesses and skilled workers who are the foundation of a strong, sustainable local economy.”

The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction provided $198,965 to the Surrey Board of Trade to conduct a comprehensive labour market study to determine Surrey’s current and anticipated labour market needs and identify skills shortages.

“The Surrey Board of Trade is honoured and pleased to have received close to $200,000 in funding from the B.C. government to deliver on a Surrey workforce strategy report — a current gap in Surrey’s marketplace,” said Anita Huberman, chief executive officer, Surrey Board of Trade. “This is proactive planning for the future of our Surrey businesses and for the skills and talent that they need to thrive in the economy.”

The study concludes on Sept. 27, 2019, and a summary report of key research findings will be made available to the public in October 2019.

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.

Quotes:

Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology —

“B.C.’s economy is strong and people are benefiting from new jobs and investments in rapidly expanding communities like Surrey. This study will help governments and the business community understand the current and future needs of Surrey’s job market so they can support the labour force and drive economic growth into the future.”

Jagrup Brar, MLA for Surrey-Fleetwood —

“There’s no question that people looking to develop, launch and build successful businesses in Surrey will benefit from the findings of this new labour market study. Local people looking to plan their careers and train for in-demand jobs will benefit from this information too. Surrey is known for its innovation in business and community building. I look forward to seeing the study’s positive impact on Surrey’s labour market.”

Quick Facts:

  • More than $15 million will be allocated in 39 CEP projects throughout B.C. in 2018-19.
  • Since the program began in 2012, 365 CEP projects have helped local communities, employers and people looking for work.
  • Surrey is the ninth largest city in Canada and the second largest in Metro Vancouver.
  • Between 2011 and 2016, Surrey’s workforce grew by 30,720.

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 labour market partnerships: www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships/Labour-Market-Partnerships.aspx

Learn more about the Surrey Board of Trade: https://businessinsurrey.com/


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11Dec

Despite steps taken, homeless counts show challenges ahead

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The first-ever provincewide homeless-count report shows that while B.C. has taken important first steps to house British Columbians, more work needs to be done to prevent and address homelessness in B.C. communities.

According to the report — which brings together statistics from 24 communities over the past two years — at least 7,655 people are experiencing homelessness across a broad demographic of individuals, families, youth and seniors. Indigenous peoples and former children in care are significantly overrepresented.

“Too many British Columbians — working, on a pension, suffering from illness — have been left behind for far too long,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “This level of homelessness should never have been allowed to take hold. The numbers we’re seeing make us even more determined to make housing more available and affordable for all British Columbians.”

The B.C. government began working with partners to take action on homelessness soon after being sworn in last year by fast-tracking modular housing in 22 communities, and supportive housing for Indigenous peoples, seniors, and women and children fleeing violence.

“Having a place to call home, knowing there is somewhere to go that is safe and secure means different things to different people,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “For some, it is a new start, opening a door to new opportunities. For others it is hope, relief from grinding despair.

“At the same time, we know there are many more people who still need a safe place to call home. We continue to work closely with all our partners to find solutions, build new housing and deliver effective supports. The kind of homelessness we’re seeing today didn’t happen overnight and it won’t be fixed overnight, but we haven’t waited to get started.”

The report is the first time this information has been compiled on a provincial level and will help government, community partners and housing providers develop better supports and services to help people who are experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. Government will release a homelessness action plan as part of B.C.’s first Poverty Reduction Strategy in early 2019.

“This report is another reminder of why we have made it a priority to rebuild the social programs people rely on,” added Simpson. “Many people living on the street are struggling with challenges that are intensified through their experience of being homeless. You can’t live on the street and not be affected both mentally and physically by the constant struggle.

“In the coming months, we will be looking to other levels of government and our community partners to help us deliver a wide range of supports, with a focus on early intervention services that will help prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.”

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

Quotes:

Celine Mauboules, executive director, Homelessness Services Association of BC —

“The report provides important baseline information including demographic and service needs of individuals experiencing homelessness and is an important step to understanding and addressing the needs of our most vulnerable citizens. Finalizing the report was a significant undertaking and we are grateful for the support we received from participating communities.”

Jill Atkey, CEO, BC Non-Profit Housing Association —

“That nearly 8,000 British Columbians on a typical night have no place to call home is a problem that has persisted for far too long. For some time now, we have advocated for a report like this that looks at homelessness at a provincial level. Good baseline data will allow us to track the impacts of the historic provincial investments being made into housing and poverty reduction, and our collective efforts in solving a crisis that reaches every corner of British Columbia.”

Quick Facts:

  • In March 2018, the Province provided the Homelessness Services Association of BC with $550,000 to co-ordinate homeless counts in 12 communities, compile that data with data from other communities and prepare the provincial homeless count report.
  • Investments in housing and supports for people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness include:
    • more than 2,000 modular homes in partnership with 22 communities;
    • 2,500 supportive housing units;
    • $734 million over 10 years for 1,500 spaces of transition and second-stage housing to provide a safe place for women and children escaping violent relationships;
    • $550 million over 10 years for 1,750 new units of social housing for Indigenous peoples, both on- and off-reserve; and,
    • expanded eligibility for the Rental Assistance Program (RAP) and Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER). More than 35,000 households will benefit from the enhancements. The average RAP payment will go up by approximately $800 a year and the average SAFER payment will go up by approximately $930 a year.
    • In addition to over 2,000 permanent, year-round shelter spaces available throughout B.C., the Province is working with municipalities and non-profits to provide 1,454 temporary shelter spaces and 772 extreme weather response shelter spaces and will open additional shelters throughout the season as needed.
  • Investments to make life more affordable in B.C. include:
    • $472 million over three years to increase income and disability assistance rates by $100 a month, a move that benefits 190,000 people in the province;
    • $20.9 million over three years to increase earnings exemptions for everyone on assistance by $200 a month, allowing people to keep more of the money they earn; and,
    • $214.5 million over three years to create a new transportation supplement for people on disability assistance.

Learn More:

2018 Report on Homeless Counts in B.C.: www.bchousing.org/home  

Homes for B.C., a 30-point plan to address housing affordability for British Columbians: www.bchousing.org/partner-services/Building-BC

B.C.’s Poverty Reduction Strategy consultation: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/bcpovertyreduction

For more information on B.C.’s RAP and SAFER: www.bchousing.org/housing-assistance/rental-assistance-financial-aid-for-home-modifications

A backgrounder follows.


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3Dec

Accessibility grants help break down barriers to inclusion

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L’Arche Comox Valley — I Belong Centre Outreach Program

The I Belong Centre promotes arts, wellness and social-recreational activities for people with disabilities in the Comox Valley. This funding will help to continue this work for the people in the Comox Valley.

Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion — Making Kudoz Accessible in New Regions

This project will expand Kudoz, a social learning platform for youth and adults with cognitive disabilities, to more communities in B.C.

Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House — MAKE IT

MAKE IT supports youth with addiction and mental-health issues to promote de-stigmatization and recovery.

Prince George Brain Injured Group — People with Brain Injury

The Preparing for Wildfire and Other Emergencies project will help people with brain injuries and other disabilities prepare for emergencies, such as wildfires and other natural disasters.

The Cridge Centre for Family — Food Service Skills Training and Employment

This project will provide employment and training opportunities in food services for people with disabilities, while helping them to contribute to their communities.

Victoria Disability Resource Centre — Disability Awareness Training Project

The Disability Awareness Training Project will create a curriculum and resources for employers to promote better understanding of the disability community and its unique needs in the workplace.

Blind Beginnings Society — Youth Speakers Bureau

The program promotes leadership and empowerment of blind or partially sighted youth by developing their public speaking and presentation skills.

PosAbilities Association of BC — Individualized Sexual Health and Healthy Relationships Training for Adults with Cognitive Disabilities

This project will promote accessible education and awareness training about sexuality and healthy relationships for people with cognitive disabilities and their supporters.

Aquafit for All Association — Aqua BLAST

Aqua BLAST will deliver an adapted aquafit program tailored to the needs of people recovering from a stroke.

PacificSport Vancouver Island — WheelKids

WheelKids supports kids with disabilities aged 5-12 to develop their abilities and confidence in sport.

BC Wheelchair Sports Association – Aboriginal Bridging the Gap Program

This project will help reduce barriers to sport for Indigenous persons with a disability.

viaSport British Columbia — #LevelTheField: Disability Inclusion in Sport & Recreation

This project will advance the development of software that promotes access to sports and recreation for people with disabilities.

Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired — Music Camp 2019

This project will provide music education for blind and deafblind children and youth in a camp setting.

Nanaimo Food Share Society — Everyone At the Table (EAT)

This project will help reduce isolation and increase access to healthy food and cooking skills for people with disabilities and other members of the community.

Richmond Centre for Disability — Accessible Parking in Accessible Communities

This project will use online tools to develop an inventory of accessible parking spaces and track instances of abuse of these spaces.

UVic School of Public Health and Social Policy — James at UVIC

This project will further the development of James, an autonomous mobile robot designed to support students with disabilities at the University of Victoria.


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2Dec

Community Living BC welcomes new board members

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Jake Spencer Anthony

Anthony is a professional actor, self-advocate and acting instructor with City of Burnaby Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services. He has been an advocate for persons with disabilities for over a decade, teaching Burnaby’s only fully inclusive theatre class for people of all diverse abilities since 2013. Previously, he worked as a media arts correspondent for posAbilities Association of BC. He has served on the boards and committees of non-profit organizations, such as Inclusion BC, Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network, Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion, and Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture. He also sat on the City of Burnaby Access Advisory Committee and is a member of the TransLink Access Transit Users’ Advisory Committee. Anthony attended the William Davis Centre for Actors’ Study at the Vancouver Institute of Media Arts.

Katherine Bright

Bright is a consultant, executive and board director with two decades of experience in working with privately held enterprises, non-profit organizations, public companies and Crown corporations. She has taught courses across the globe in areas of strategy, succession planning, organizational development, governance and business growth. Starting with a career in social work, her roots are in community and child services. Throughout her career, she has continued her commitment to public policy, governance and stewardship. In addition to running her consulting practice, she serves in a federal appointment as the vice-chair of the Pacific Pilotage Authority board of directors and as an independent director on a private family enterprise board. Bright holds a bachelor of arts from the University of Puget Sound and a master of business administration from the University of British Columbia.

Nelson Jake Chan

Chan is the chief financial officer for the Capital Regional District, Capital Regional Hospital District and Capital Region Housing Corporation. He has extensive experience in strategic investment and business transformation in both public and private sectors. He serves on the boards of the Government Finance Officers Associations of B.C. and Royal Roads University. He holds a master of business administration from Florida Metropolitan University and a bachelor of commerce from McMaster University. Chan is a chartered professional accountant and certified management accountant in Ontario and British Columbia.

Marnie B. Larson

Larson is the chief executive officer at StarGarden Corporation, responsible for operations in Canada, the U.S. and New Zealand. She has over 20 years of experience in the software industry, specializing in human capital management, human resources, payroll and time and attendance software solutions. Active in her community, she serves on the board of the Better Business Bureau Lower Mainland and served on the boards of Wired Woman and the Simon Fraser University (SFU) MBA Alumni Association. Larson holds a bachelor of commerce from the University of British Columbia and a master of business administration from SFU Beedie Graduate School of Business.

Julia Louise Payson

Payson is the executive director of Canadian Mental Health Association (Vernon and District Branch), where she works with a team to improve mental health for all. Previously, she was secretariat director of the Community Action Initiative and executive director of the John Howard Society of British Columbia. She is a board director for the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, where she promotes safe and affordable housing throughout the province. She has worked internationally in emergency medical aid in Sudan, Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea. Payson volunteers as a board consultant with Vantage Point and as a board development committee member for the BC SPCA. She holds a bachelor of arts from the University of British Columbia.

Simon Andrew Philp

Philp is a market vice-president of commercial banking, leading teams on Vancouver Island and throughout the B.C. central interior, northern B.C. and the Yukon for CIBC. He has spent over 20 years in financial services working with private and public companies, public sector entities, First Nations governments and non-profit organizations. Philp has served on a number of boards, most recently as a co-chair of the governance board for the unification of the B.C. accounting profession. He has volunteered as a representative and board member for technology industry organizations, universities, business associations, arts groups and land trusts in both Canada and the U.S. Philp obtained his CFP and CMA (now CPA) designation.

Patricia (Patti) Ann Sullivan

Sullivan is a management advisor and chairs the Capital Regional District Arts Advisory Council. She began her career in child care with children and youth with developmental challenges in Montreal, followed by a move to Lynn Lake as director of a youth centre. She has worked in executive roles in community health, youth development services, social housing and business development. Sullivan served on the boards of Volunteer Victoria and the British Columbia Association for Living Mindfully. She served as board chair of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, Child and Family Services of Central Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and as a member on the Canadian Pharmacists Association and Canadian Mental Health Association boards in Manitoba. She is a YWCA Woman of Distinction (business and professional). Appointed complaints review commissioner by the Law Society of Manitoba, she served as the first non-lawyer chair of its Complaints Investigations Committee. Sullivan holds a bachelor of arts from the University of Winnipeg.


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15Nov

Investment in workplace technology helps people with disabilities

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A new WorkBC contract that equips people with adaptive technology will open up employment opportunities for people with disabilities and help them thrive in the workplace.

Delivered by the Neil Squire Society, the Assistive Technology Services program combines two existing services — [email protected] and supports offered through individual WorkBC Centres — into one streamlined provincial resource to help more people with disabilities throughout the province fully participate in B.C.’s economy.

“British Columbia’s economy is thriving but to be a truly inclusive province, we need everyone to have the tools they need to participate in the workforce and build the life they deserve,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “The Neil Squire Society has been a leader in innovative assistive technology for over 30 years. As the successful proponent, it can continue its important work with employers and people with disabilities.”

Supports available through the Assistive Technology Services program include:

  • mobility supports, alternative keyboards, voice input equipment and other workplace modification technology
  • advice to employers on how to be more accessible and inclusive
  • training to help people navigate other services and supports to assist with employment

The contract has a five-year term, is valued at $28.8 million and will begin service delivery on April 1, 2019.

“The Neil Squire Society is dedicated to breaking down barriers that keep people with disabilities from finding sustainable, meaningful employment,” said Gary Birch, executive director, Neil Squire Society. “This funding will help expand our vision and continue our work to improve the lives and opportunities of people with disabilities.”

The Assistive Technology Services program is one of two WorkBC services that will soon be delivered provincially. Beginning April 1, 2019, Douglas College will provide WorkBC Apprentice Services, including processing financial support applications and facilitating approvals for apprentices to collect employment insurance benefits while participating in classroom training. This contract is valued at $67.5 million over five years.

Quick Facts:

  • Approximately 334,000 people in B.C. aged 15 to 64 self-identify as having a disability.
  • As of Nov. 1, 2018, more than 1,400 people with disabilities have accessed [email protected] services through the Neil Squire Society.
  • There are 84 WorkBC centres throughout the province that serve British Columbians, including people with disabilities.
  • The President’s Group, an advisory group to government, is a change-driven network of 22 B.C. business leaders committed to working with private sector employers to help increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
  • Of Canadians with disabilities aged 15 to 64 years, 47% are employed compared to 74% of people without disabilities.

Learn More:

For information about supports available through the WorkBC Employment Services Program, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/policies-for-government/bcea-policy-and-procedure-manual/eppe/employment-program-of-british-columbia

To learn more about the Neil Squire Society, visit: https://www.neilsquire.ca/


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2Oct

Historic legislation sets targets, timelines to reduce poverty

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British Columbia’s first Poverty Reduction Strategy, guided by legislation introduced today, will lift thousands of people out of poverty, create more opportunities to break the cycle of poverty and make it easier for people to participate in their community.

The Poverty Reduction Strategy Act will define the scope of the strategy, which will be released in early 2019, and sets poverty reduction targets and timelines that government must meet.

“A strong province is built on a foundation of equity, inclusion and opportunity for everyone,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “We know that poverty is a serious issue in our province. That was driven home throughout the consultation as thousands of people told us about the impossible challenges they face each day. Social issues have been ignored for too long and that is why we are committing this government, and future governments, to break the cycle of poverty and improve people’s lives.”

The legislation is shaped by the experiences, voices and hopes of more than 8,500 people who took part in a broad public engagement on poverty from November 2017 to March 2018. If passed, the legislation will:

  • Commit government to reduce B.C.’s overall poverty rate by 25% and child poverty rate by 50% in the next five years.
  • Establish an independent advisory committee that will represent the breadth and depth of personal and professional experiences of poverty in B.C. and advise the minister on matters relating to poverty reduction and prevention.
  • Require government to report annually on its progress to reduce poverty.
  • Require government to release its first poverty reduction strategy by March 31, 2019. The strategy must focus on the key issues faced by people living in poverty including housing, education, employment, income supports and social inclusion.

The commitment to a poverty reduction strategy, in addition to addressing liveable wages under B.C.’s new Fair Wages Commission and exploring basic income, is a component of the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the B.C. Green Party caucus. The work of the Fair Wages Commission and the basic income expert panel will inform future updates to the poverty reduction strategy. 

“It is our shared responsibility to make sure that everyone has the tools, resources and social supports they need to improve their lives,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Poverty Reduction. “Hundreds of thousands of people in our province experience poverty, and this kind of long-term government commitment is what is required to lift people up and achieve real progress.”

Quotes:

Adrienne Montani, provincial co-ordinator, First Call

“First Call’s Child Poverty Report Card shows one in five B.C. children live in poverty and we have called for a 50% reduction in B.C.’s child poverty rate since 2009. We are pleased that government has listened and has this target and timeline in legislation. Reaching this target will benefit the health and well-being of thousands of children and youth, and may well reduce the number of children coming into government care. Our coalition looks forward to working with government to deliver on this target and help more children, youth and families thrive.”

Dawn Hemingway, co-chair, Minister’s Poverty Reduction Advisory Forum –

“The only way to seriously tackle the complex issue of poverty reduction is to have a meaningful and ambitious strategy that enforces targets and deadlines. This legislation is a significant step forward in making poverty reduction a reality in British Columbia.” 

Quick Facts:

  • British Columbia is the only province in Canada without a poverty reduction strategy despite having the second-worst rate of poverty.  
  • Based on the latest statistics available, in 2016 approximately 557,000 people were living in poverty in B.C., including 99,000 children.
  • Between November 2017 and March 2018, government engaged in a provincewide consultation about how to reduce poverty and inequity and provide opportunities for people to be successful. Thousands of people participated in the consultation, more than half had lived experience.

Learn More:

To read the legislation:
https://www.leg.bc.ca/parliamentary-business/legislation-debates-proceedings/41st-parliament/3rd-session/bills/first-reading/gov39-1

Learn more about B.C.’s commitment to reduce poverty for the people of B.C.: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/bcpovertyreduction


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12Jul

Province releases What We Heard About Poverty in B.C. report

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Social Development and Poverty Reduction

British Columbia News

Province releases What We Heard About Poverty in B.C. report

https://news.gov.bc.ca/17608


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