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News Release from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction

People with developmental disabilities who are eligible for Community Living BC (CLBC) services will get support to return to the workforce and increase their digital literacy.

The support comes from a $10-million investment from the Province to expand contracted employment services.

“Many people with developmental disabilities are precariously employed,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “This funding will support those laid off due to the pandemic to get back to work, while assisting other people to enter the labour force.”

Of the new funding, $9.7 million will be used to supplement CLBC-funded employment support services. It will assist about 1,100 people with disabilities who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 100 agencies that deliver specialized employment services to the people CLBC serves will be able to apply for funding.

This new funding can be used to hire additional employment support staff to help people find or reconnect to employment, support with job searching, assist individuals to understand and adhere to COVID-19 workplace requirements and help people reconnect with former employers to find out if an individual can be rehired.

The remaining $300,000 will go toward improving digital literacy throughout the province for all individuals CLBC serves, so they can enhance their employment prospects, work more from home and benefit from more social connections.

“We know COVID-19 has added new barriers to employment for nearly 1,100 CLBC clients,” said Dan Coulter, Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility. “By increasing the number of support staff and resources available, more people with disabilities will be able to return to work and secure safe, new employment opportunities in communities across the province.”

Inclusion BC, a provincial non-profit organization that advocates for the rights of the people CLBC serves and provides support in B.C. for the national inclusive employment initiative Ready, Willing and Able, will administer the grant funds for employment services over two years on behalf of CLBC.

“Inclusion BC is committed to helping people with intellectual disabilities and their families get through this pandemic. We’re grateful for the opportunity to administer these funds and work together with CLBC, the Province of B.C. and the community-living sector to help people get back to work,” said Karla Verschoor, executive director, Inclusion BC. “I would like to thank and commend the Province for addressing the needs of people with intellectual disabilities who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. The community-living sector has shown tremendous strength in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this additional funding will help meet the increasing demand for their employment services.”

Michelle Goos, a self-advocate and parent, said, “Employment is important for a feeling of belonging to community, providing for self, to feel independent and to build work and social skills. Many people with diverse abilities have lost their jobs during COVID-19, and this has had a great impact on their lives. I am grateful to see the Province is recognizing the importance of employment and helping people get back to work as part of our recovery from the pandemic.”

Over the next two years, the grants for employment services are expected to assist the people CLBC serves who lost employment due to COVID-19 to re-enter the workforce. Eligible employment service providers are invited to apply for funding based on the number of people they are working with who require assistance to reconnect to employment.

Applications open at 7 a.m. (Pacific time) on Monday, Jan. 25, and will be accepted until midnight Feb. 15. More information is available at: inclusionbc.org/supported-employment-recovery-fund

This announcement is part of B.C.’s $10-billion COVID-19 response, which includes the StrongerBC economic recovery plan — a plan that protects people’s health and livelihoods while supporting businesses and communities.

Quick Facts:

  • People with disabilities represent an important employee talent pool that is largely untapped.
  • Hiring inclusively has been shown to improve culture and increase retention in the workplace.
  • 90% of consumers report they prefer companies that employ people with disabilities.
  • Inclusive hiring has been shown to be good for business. Companies that have diverse workforces are two times more likely to meet financial targets and six times more likely to be innovative, according to: www.accessibleemployers.ca

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