The Policy Position Statement linked below was produced by Urban Core in collaboration with member organizations the Local Economic Development Lab and Exchange Inner City. February 2018.
Urban Core Poverty Reduction Strategy Submission
Urban Core is a volunteer-run network of nonprofits, businesses, and individuals who deliver social services and are committed to supporting a continuum of economic strategies that provide a sustainable livelihood and improved incomes for Vancouver Downtown Eastside residents and beyond. Many members of Urban Core are formal partners with the provincial or municipal government in their work and serve British Columbians who require Income Assistance (IA) and employment services. We offer the following submission to the Provincial Poverty Reduction Strategy Consultations on reforming IA and the Employment Program of BC (EPBC) based on this experience. Urban Core members support the recommendations of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and Raise the Rates and present our recommendations as complementary.
For many in British Columbia, attaining economic self-sufficiency is an extended process due to health and education challenges. Existing IA programs and the EPBC do not account for this reality within their inflexible requirements, often removing supports at critical junctures, and denying non-Employment Insurance (EI) eligible clients access to certain training programs. For those whose economic selfsufficiency is temporarily or indefinitely beyond reach, multiple barriers prevent access to relevant income supports. The eligibility requirements of specific IA programs such as Persons With Disabilities (PWD) or Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers (PPMB) present further obstacles for some of British Columbia’s most marginalized applicants.
Despite the best efforts of service providers, IA workers and WorkBC contract holders, the existing systems are not working for many of the people who need them most. This submission outlines a number of recommendations for BC IA and employment programs. These recommendations address the issues outlined above and provide pathways for government to support British Columbians in their ongoing effort to achieve stability and self-sufficiency, contribute to community prosperity and produce savings to government in health and emergency interventions.
- Improve the income assistance application process
- Strengthen community supports for applying to income assistance
- Improve access to more supportive income assistance categories such as Person with Disabilities (PWD) and Person with Persistent Multiple Barriers (PPMB)
- Commit to continual service improvement consulting recipients of income assistance
- Develop a new evidence informed income assistance distribution framework that emphasizes convenience and community wellbeing
- Remove earning exemptions limits for PWD and PPMB clients
- Eliminate the application of the two year financial independent test
- Reform the Employment Program of BC to reflect the nuance and flexibility of today’s workforce
- Increase support to social enterprises and non-profits that are filling gaps in Ministry employment service provision
- Recognize and embrance the full Income Generation Continuum
- Develop new ways to measure success that prioritize wellbeing and stability
Review the full Urban Core Policy Position Statement.
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Supported Research and Information
- Atira’s Social Return on Investment Report in partnership with Ernst & Young
- VanCity Community Foundation’s Demonstrating Value Data
- Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives 2008 Report for BC Economic Security Project “Living on Welfare”
- Urban Core & Exchange Inner City Impact Stories
- BCCSU’s Cheque Day Study
- BC Government Service Design Team
- Wan der Wel, K. A., & Halvorsen, K. (2014). The bigger the worse? A comparative study of the welfare state and employment commitment.
- Vuolo, M., Mortimer, J. T., & Staff, J. (2014). Adolescent precursors of pathways from school to work.