By Annalee Grant
Employment services in the East Kootenay changed hands on April 2, and will now be handled by the Canadian Mental Health Association for the East Kootenays.
Now called WorkBC Employment Services Centre, the services offered will be much the same as they were before the switch and will continue to be offered out of the same building on Second Avenue in Fernie.
The centre will offer the tools necessary to gain employment and the skills to improve readiness for employment. Staff are trained to help out in many different ways, including helping a job seeker determine what skills and training they will need to get the job or career they want. There will be workshops, resources, training and planning opportunities available on site, and job seekers can use computers, public telephones, a fax machine and photocopy services.
Lori Bender, administrator of employment services, also said job seekers are perfectly welcome to use the services at WorkBC to deal with claims.
“Individuals are encouraged to come and use our computers and internet services to access their EI information,” she said.
The new WorkBC program replaced four provincially-funded programs and six programs that had been funded under the Canada-B.C. Labour Market Agreement that previously provided employment services. There are now 85 WorkBC offices located across the province.
The CMHA was offered the contract for both Cranbrook and Fernie, and will be operating the centres. Services can be accessed wherever you are by visiting www.workbc.ca. The centres are meant to offer the services to all B.C. citizens, regardless of any barriers they have, whether they be physical or because the job seeker doesn’t speak a certain language.
B.C. Social Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux officially launched WorkBC on April 4 by touring two locations on the lower mainland.
“British Columbians want to work and take care of their families,” Cadieux said in a statement. “The new Employment Program of B.C. provides the training and support people need to get back into the workforce. With WorkBC Employment Services Centres now open across the province, people will get the supports they need to help them find -and keep – a job.”
It is estimated by the Ministry of Social Development that over the next decade there will be 1.1 million job openings in B.C. Employment programs have helped 73,000 people become employed since 2001, including 29,000 over the past five years. On average, a person who finds a job through an employment centre receives $14.38 per hour.