The Province of BC has allocated new funding towards helping people with developmental disabilities return to the workforce and increase their digital literacy.
In a press release issued on Monday, the Province said that it will be making a $10-million investment to expand contracted employment services in an effort to help people who are eligible for Community Living BC (CLBC) services.
A total of $9.7-million of the funding will be allocated towards supplementing CLBC-funded employment support services. The government says that this funding will assist approximately 1,100 people with disabilities who lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19.
“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.”
According to the Province, agencies who apply for the funding can use it 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 be put towards improving digital literacy throughout the province for all individuals eligible for CLBC services. The spending on digital literacy is aimed at enhancing employment prospects, allowing individuals to work from home, and helping create more social connections, says the government.
“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.”
The government notes that approximately 100 agencies will be able to apply for the new funding.
Grants for employment services will be administered by Inclusion BC over the next 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.
The government says 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.
“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,” said Michelle Goos, a self-advocate and parent.
Applications open at 7 a.m. PT on Monday, Jan. 25, and will be accepted until midnight Feb. 15. More information is available at: https://inclusionbc.org/