VICTORIA – The third intake of the Province’s Work Experience Opportunities Grant has opened to help more British Columbians move toward economic recovery, thanks to broader eligibility requirements.
“Based on feedback we received during the first two intakes, we’re broadening the grant’s eligibility criteria,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “By doing this, we’ll be able to help more people in need access paid work experience opportunities.”
The $10-million Work Experience Opportunities Grant is part of B.C.’s $10-billion COVID-19 response, which includes the StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan to protect people’s health and livelihoods, while supporting businesses and communities.
The grants were established in 2020 for non-profit organizations, allowing them to apply for $5,000 per participant for 12-week work experience placements.
In the third intake, eligibility criteria have been expanded in three areas:
* Organizations can increase the number of participants they provide work experience to from five to 10.
* Private-sector businesses, social enterprises and non-profit organizations can apply.
* Any person qualified to receive income assistance or disability assistance, as well as Indigenous peoples on reserve qualified to receive federal assistance, can now be considered as a participant. For the first two intakes, only people with disabilities or persistent multiple barriers to employment were considered eligible participants.
Under the new eligibility criteria, applications will be accepted until midnight, March 8, 2021.
“We are thrilled to be able to provide this opportunity to five individuals who’ve been working hard to improve their mental wellness and ended up losing ground with COVID-19,” said Maureen Davis, executive director, Canadian Mental Health Association Northern BC Branch. “This 12-week work experience will help them regain ground lost while also learning how to manage anxiety that has been heightened by the COVID experience.”
The grants include a stipend for participants and are projected to help 2,000 British Columbians gain the work experience needed for long-term employment opportunities. At the end of the work placement, participants can receive help from WorkBC centres to leverage their work experience into other employment opportunities.
“I am enjoying the variety of little jobs to do. It feels good to get out and involved, meeting the people. Everyone is friendly to work with,” said Joanne Clary, program participant, Chase Food Bank. “Even though I have limitations, I try, and if I can’t, there is always someone there to help me out.”
Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, said: “The Work Experience Opportunities Grant is a good example of how we can build a more inclusive economy that doesn’t leave people behind. I’m proud we are investing in programs that remove barriers so that more people’s talents are recognized, allowing them to rise up and make B.C. organizations as strong as possible.”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 5,000 people receiving income and disability assistance have experienced job loss. More than 115 organizations applied to the first two intakes of the Work Experience Opportunities Grant.