Welfare to Work

Phase 1

Provincial and Territorial Summaries

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Phase 1 Summary

Youth Works (YW) and Welfare to Work (WW) are components of BC Benefits, which represents a major renewal of British Columbia's social safety net and includes specific initiatives that will replace most of the existing welfare system. The programs are under the Ministry of Advanced Education, Training and Technology (MAETT) and the Ministry of Human Resources (MHR). Both programs began in January 1996.

YW provides youth aged 19 to 24 with a living allowance and programs and services to enable them to move into employment. It is available to youth whose income and assets are too low for self-support. To be eligible to receive the living allowance, the youth must participate in a range of employability programs, including Independent Job Search, Assisted Job Search and longer-term employability and training programs. YW operates under the BC Benefits (Youth Works) Act, which came into force March 31, 1997.

WW offers employment-related programming, including Independent Job Search, Assisted Job Search and longer-term employability and training programs, to adults 25 years of age and over on income assistance. The programs are established and eligibility for participants is determined under the BC Benefits (Income Assistance) Act of March 31, 1997.

Training and education programs are provided by colleges, employers, private training centres, local contractors, program providers and community-based organizations. Youth have priority for employability programming. If spaces are still available, then adults may also choose employability programs. Employment-based activities include the involvement of private, public and non-profit employers.

Participants are eligible for an increasing range of services as their time on assistance and need for intervention increase. Recipients move through the system in phases as needed. The phases are the Independent Job Search (maximum seven months), the Assisted Job Search (maximum two months) and Employability Skills (no set timeframe). During all phases, participants must demonstrate that they are making reasonable efforts to secure employment or their benefits may be discontinued. For YW participants, demonstration means participation at all required meetings, sessions and activities and an active, ongoing job search. For WW participants, demonstration means an active, ongoing job search and participation in other programs subject to availability and MAETT approval.

Programs are optional for recipients who have a disability, who are over age 60, who are single parents with children under seven or who are single parents of a child with a disability. Medical reasons could also exempt a recipient from participating for a specific period. People unable to work as a result of drug addiction or dependency have their benefits reduced by $46 per month; the savings are invested in treatment programs for them.

There is little flexibility in the YW and WW model; however, there is local flexibility in terms of finding ways to meet participants' specific needs (flexible employability agreements). Also at the local level, more effort and resources are invested in the participant with multiple barriers. YW and WW are not limited to certain categories of social assistance recipients, but youth do have a priority. The programs take into account the fact that women and men tend to predominate in different jobs in the local economy, with priority placements offered according to proportion of the population. Community resources are available to meet the special needs of some groups of participants, such as people with disabilities and victims of spousal abuse. Special programs are contracted to meet the needs of youth at risk. Employers must ensure that no existing worker is displaced.

Financial assistance is provided under BC Benefits, which has doubled its training and employability budget from $60 million to $120 million. In any given month of 1997–98, an average of 90,828 income assistance recipients were considered eligible and required to participate in YW or WW programs.

Information and orientation are provided to program participants at the outset. Periodically, staff contact program participants to assess eligibility, refer participants to programs, determine participant readiness for activities, develop the employability agreement, monitor progress and compliance and apply sanctions if required.

Both YW and WW will be evaluated at several times. Sub-programs are evaluated individually. Findings will be used to improve administrative processes, inform on long-term impacts, inform on best practices, advocate for funding increases, inform decisions on whether and how to change or end programs and inform adaptations in how BC Benefits does business with service providers.

Because of the federal–provincial Labour Market Development Agreement, all current federal employment programs will be coming to the province of British Columbia to administer. Over the next two years, the federal and provincial employment training programs will be changing as needed to reflect the merging of the programs.

© Copyright Canadian Council on Social Development, 1999. All rights reserved.

Last Revised: Mon, Dec 10, 2001

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