Monday, April 3, 2017 2:30 PM



More than 109,000 British Columbians have found jobs with the help of the Employment Program of BC (EPBC), which marks its fifth anniversary on April 2, 2017.

“The Employment Program of BC is a vital service for unemployed British Columbians when it comes to helping them find jobs they can be proud of,” said Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation. “With programs like the Single Parent Employment Initiative, we are making a real, positive impact in the lives of thousands of people by giving them the training and supports they need to succeed in the workforce.”

The Province launched EPBC in April 2012 to replace several employment programs, combining them into a one-stop service that helps unemployed British Columbians get back into the workforce. Each year, the Province invests about $330 million into EPBC to continue offering its services through 84 WorkBC Employment Services Centres in communities throughout B.C.

“It is hard to believe that five years have already passed and it has been an exciting and busy time for us,” said Barbara Davidson of GT Hiring Solutions, which operates WorkBC Employment Service Centres in Greater Victoria, Nanaimo, Chilliwack and Burnaby. “By delivering EPBC services, we have assisted thousands of job seekers in achieving their employment goals, as well as helping employers with their hiring needs. Over the past five years, we have developed strong partnerships with local businesses, community services, educational and training institutions to ensure excellence in employment services in each of our communities.”

Connecting with EPBC was an especially valuable experience for Craig. After becoming stuck in a seasonal work cycle and struggling to find steady, full-time work, Craig found WorkBC and joined a government-funded training program in heavy industrial manufacturing with the University of the Fraser Valley and Mussell Crane Manufacturing in Chilliwack. Once the program was complete, Craig had extra attributes he could put on his resume, and it led to a full-time job.

The on-the-job training program helped Craig update his skills and certification, and provided him with a four-week work experience term with his future employer. The first-aid certification Craig earned through the program has made him an asset – he is one of few people on staff with the certification and has been appointed to the company’s joint safety committee.

“Prior to the training program, I was stuck in a seasonal job with no potential for advancement,” Craig said. “Now, my starting wage is more than the manager at my previous job, with room to increase.”

Throughout the last five years, WorkBC Employment Services Centres have continued to work on innovative programs and projects in their communities to help job-seekers find work that fits with their needs.

For example, Fraser Works Co-op, which managers the WorkBC Employment Services Centre in New Westminster, established the CONNECTIONS program with the New Westminster Chamber of Commerce. This program connects employers with job developers at WorkBC to help match businesses and job-seekers with similar needs, a win-win relationship for employers and clients as job openings are filled. Since CONNECTIONS launched in July 2016, nearly 200 businesses have connected with the program.

EPBC services are available to eligible unemployed British Columbians seeking work, including income assistance and disability assistance clients. That can include self-serve job search services, one-on-one case management and countless training opportunities  and funding.

Throughout its five years, EPBC has delivered innovative programs that have given people a chance to get the training, education and work experience they need to join in on B.C.’s strong, diverse and growing economy. This includes the Single Parent Employment Initiative, Community and Employer Partnerships, and specific supports for people with disabilities among many other initiatives.

The Single Parent Employment Initiative (SPEI) was launched in 2015 to help single parents on income and disability assistance find work by paying for clients’ tuition, childcare and MSP while they attend school or a training opportunity and during their first year of employment. Since its launch, more than 4,600 single parents have accessed SPEI, and more than 930 of them have already found a job.

Down on her luck and looking for help, Miya Inkster turned to the WorkBC Employment Service Centre in Duncan where staff connected her with SPEI – a life-changing experience. Miya found work with the Malahat Nation.

“They are so supportive in helping you to get where you need to be,” Miya said of the WorkBC staff. “I didn’t feel any pressure or judgment. They helped me to find where my strengths are.”

Community and Employer Partnerships are employment projects that EPBC funds to help job-seekers gain training and/or work experience by partnering with community organizations such as businesses, non-profits, local governments, First Nations and other groups by offering unique employment opportunities.

An example of this is government’s partnership with the Southern Interior Construction Association (SICA). The Province provided SICA with nearly $1.4 million to give classroom instruction and hands-on training to 54 people in heavy equipment operation in Enderby, West Kelowna and Vernon from April 2015 to March 2016. Sixty-five per cent of participants were employed once the project was complete, and SICA is now leading another similar project for 36 people in Westbank and Williams Lake.

In 2016, EPBC launched a new stream of Community and Employer Partnerships, Social Innovation, to support innovative projects that address social challenges beyond unemployment. This was done through the grand opening of Nation’s Creations, a partnership with the Stó:lō Nation that is preparing 24 people in the Fraser Valley for careers in manufacturing while also supporting an innovative royalty remuneration system for Aboriginal artists. The B.C. government provided more than $600,000 for this project.

“Nations Creations has given me a new appreciation and respect for art and the artists that create it,” said Nichol, one of the participants in the project. “I now love getting up to get ready for my day and going to learn something new.”

EPBC is part of the B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint, providing more support to people who are struggling to gain a foothold in the job market. There are nearly one million job openings expected in BC by 2025, and EPBC services are part of government’s plan to put British Columbians first in line to fill that demand.

Since EPBC launched, more than 330,000 people have accessed its services.

Quick Facts:

  • The Ministry invests about $330 million annually in employment and labour market programs, including $300 million from the federal government under the Labour Market Development Agreement.
  • Of the 109,000 people who found jobs through EPBC, 85% have secured full-time employment.
  • In 2016, the ministry provided personalized case-managed services to about 76,000 people, of which more than 30,000 identified themselves as having a disability.
  • Since the program launched, more than 27,800 British Columbians with disabilities have found a job through WorkBC.
  • As of December 2016, more than 12,300 apprentices received apprentice financial living supports.
  • EPBC also focuses on helping people who are experiencing barriers to employment, including:
    • Persons with disabilities;
    • Aboriginal people;
    • Francophones;
    • Immigrants;
    • Rural and remote populations;
    • Multi-barriered clients;
    • Survivors of violence and/or abuse; and
    • Youth.

Learn More:

Find out more about the Employment Program of BC:

To find your local WorkBC Employment Services Centre, visit:

To learn about the Single Parent Employment Initiative:

For more information about Community and Employer Partnerships:

For a five-year update on the BC Jobs Plan:

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