Amendments to the employment and assistance and the employment and assistance for persons with disabilities regulations made today pave the way for significant changes to the income and disability assistance program in British Columbia. These changes will come into effect on Sept. 1, 2015.
The new Single Parent Employment Initiative will remove barriers to employment for single parents on income and disability assistance, providing them with the training and supports they need to secure long-term and sustainable employment. Up to 16,000 single parents on income and disability assistance will be able to benefit from this program which offers:
- Up to 12 months of funded training for in-demand jobs, or a paid work experience placement;
- Transit costs to and from school;
- Child-care costs during their training or work placement and in the first year of employment;
- Health supplement coverage for a full year after they leave income assistance for employment;
- Single parents will also be able to remain on income assistance when they attend a training program, and
- Exemptions for bursaries, scholarships and grants have also been extended to single parents in approved training programs.
Regulation changes required to make child support payments fully exempt for parents on income and disability assistance were also made today. This is expected to provide $32 million to more than 5,400 vulnerable children throughout the province over the next three years.
To further support B.C. children, government also amended regulations to make the Canada Pension Plan Orphan’s Benefit exempt. Like child support, the ministry intends for these payments to fully benefit children. The Orphan’s Benefit is a monthly payment that goes to a surviving child of a deceased parent. The average monthly benefit is about $235.
Amendments were also made to allow for new earning exemptions, which include doubling the exemption from $200 to $400 per month for all families with children, and increasing the exemption from $300 to $500 per month for families who have a child with a disability. In addition, all families will be able to keep their basic health supplement coverage for a full year when they leave income assistance for employment. Health supplements give families access to dental, optical and Ministry of Health MSP and PharmaCare programs.
Social Development and Social Innovation Minister Michelle Stilwell hosted an information session with service providers that support single parents today to provide an opportunity to learn more about the Single Parent Employment Initiative. Those attending the discussion included representatives for:
- YWCA Metro Vancouver
- Family Services of Greater Vancouver
- BC Council for Families
- First Call
- United Way
Leading up to the September launch, and in the future, the ministry will reach out to single parents and community organizations that support single parents to provide them with information about the new Single Parent Employment Initiative. This information will include how to participate, the benefits, supports and services and how it works. The ministry wants to ensure as many single parents as possible have the opportunity to participate in this significant employment initiative.
Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation –
“Today’s regulation changes open the door to employment and self-sufficiency for thousands of single parents on income and disability assistance who need a hand up to provide a better future for themselves and their children. These changes lay the foundation for the new Single Parent Employment Initiative, which will provide single parents with the essential supports, tools and skills training they need to secure long-term and in-demand jobs.”
Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Development –
“Through the new Single Parent Employment Initiative, thousands of single parents will have the opportunity to enrich their lives and build a brighter future for their families. To help parents on the path to success, we are covering the full cost of child care during their training or work placement – and in their first year of employment – to ease parents’ worry and stress about finding quality, affordable care for their children.”
Jessica, single parent –
“As a single parent on disability I was so excited to hear about the new government funded single parent training initiate. It has always been a dream of mine to attend culinary school but with child care costs and the expense of school I felt like that dream was not attainable. Even more important is that with this new program I can be trained in a field that can guarantee gainful employment and not feel the pressure of unaffordable debt after my training. I am very grateful that this program now exists.”
Caroline Bonesky, CEO, Family Services of Greater Vancouver –
“Every day, single parents come through our doors at Family Services of Greater Vancouver overwhelmed by the pressure and strain of raising a family alone. They come to us ready to make change happen, yet financial pressures often are barriers to making change happen. When we learned of the Single Parent Employment Initiative, we breathed a sigh of relief for the families of our WorkBC Employment Services program. This initiative has looked at all aspects of barriers to employment, and addresses many of the issues that get in the way of success.”
Joel Kaplan, executive director, BC Council for Families –
“The council's Let's Talk Families survey results points out that two of the top five challenges families face in B.C. are children's care and education. Removing these barriers for single parents on income assistance is a very welcome step.”
Janet Austin, CEO, YWCA Metro Vancouver –
“Removing barriers to employment is fundamental in helping single parents achieve economic independence. Opportunities for paid training, along with additional supports, such as child care and transportation, remove some of the obstacles experienced by many YWCA clients and help single parents build brighter futures for themselves and their children.”
- Currently, there are 16,000 single-parent families with 26,000 children who are on income and disability assistance in B.C.
- For people just on income assistance, when you include children, single-parent families represent 44% of all recipients.
- On average, 90% of single parents on income and disability assistance are female.
- Children who grow up in an income-assistance family are at greater risk of living in low income when they become adults. Research suggests they may be three or more times more likely to become dependent on income assistance as an adult, compared to children with no or limited exposure to income assistance.
- There are 84 WorkBC Employment Services Centres throughout B.C.
- Launched in April 2014, B.C.’s blueprint will help British Columbians align their training with in-demand jobs so they can be first in line for jobs in B.C.
- By 2022, there will be one million job openings in B.C. – more than 78% of jobs will require some form of post-secondary education, and 44% of jobs will be in skilled trades and technical occupations.
- B.C. is the first province to fully exempt child-support payments for families receiving income and disability assistance.
Single Parent Employment Initiative: www.eia.gov.bc.ca/programs/spei.html
B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint: www.workbc.ca/skills
B.C.’s 2022 Labour Market Outlook: http://ow.ly/DOw6R
To find a local WorkBC Employment Services Centre: www.workbc.ca/Work-BC-Centres/Pages/Work-BC-Centres.aspx
Canada Pension Plan Orphan’s Benefit: www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/services/pensions/cpp/child.shtml
Annualized earnings exemptions: https://news.gov.bc.ca/stories/flexibility-helps-people-with-disabilities-earn
Child support payment exemptions: https://news.gov.bc.ca/stories/bc-exempts-child-support-for-families-on-assistance