Budget 2004 -- Government of British Columbia.

BC Employment and Assistance

The goal of the BC Employment and Assistance (BCEA) program is to assist people who are able to work in achieving sustainable employment while providing income assistance to those most in need.

BCEA provides services to both temporary assistance and disability assistance clients.

Temporary assistance clients include those that are expected to work and have employment related obligations, those who are temporarily excused from work and persons with persistent multiple barriers.

Disability assistance is available to eligible persons with disabilities who may not achieve complete financial independence through employment.

The Ministry of Human Resources' employment programs support temporary assistance and disability assistance clients as they move toward self-reliance.

Caseload trends

From 1994/95 to 2003/04, the annual average income assistance caseload decreased from 210,492 to a forecasted 116,700, a reduction of 44.9 per cent. The caseload is expected to continue to decline over the next three years to an estimated 108,700 in 2004/05, 107,800 in 2005/06 and 106,100 in 2006/07.

Total Caseload.

For 2003/04, temporary assistance is estimated to be 57 per cent of the caseload, including 29 per cent of the caseload expected to work, 20 per cent temporarily excused from work and 8 per cent persons with persistent multiple barriers. Persons with disabilities make up the remaining 43 per cent of the caseload.

Total Caseload 2003/04.

Expectation to actively seek employment

Employable clients are required to have an active employment plan as a condition of eligibility for income assistance.

Employment plans outline the ministry's expectations of clients regarding their activities that will lead to employment. This may include directed job search, referral to job placement programs and specific training for employment, which provide clients with access to the tools and supports they require to find a job and become independent of income assistance.

Employment Programs

Employment programs are available to assist clients to find and sustain employment and include the Job Placement and Training for Jobs programs. Specialized employment programs under the Employment Strategy for Persons with Disabilities are available to support persons with disabilities.

The provincial government spent $300 million over three years (from 2001/02 to 2003/04) on employment programs. In 2004/05, due to the declining number of employable clients, government will spend less on employment programs.

Expected to Work Clients

In the last five years, the caseload for those expected to work has fallen from 104,040 in 1998/99 to an estimated 33,140 in 2003/04, a decline of 70,900 or 68.1 per cent. This caseload is expected to continue to decline at a modest rate over the next three years.

Expected to Work.

Since June 2001, more than 26,000 income assistance clients have been placed in jobs through ministry contracted job placement agencies. The majority of jobs are in the retail sales, hospitality and service occupations, office administration, manufacturing and trades related areas. This is consistent with the results of the ministry's client exit surveys. To date, the average wage for participants in the Training for Jobs program is $9.36 per hour and $10.29 per hour for the Job Placement program.

Temporarily Excused

Temporarily Excused clients are those that are temporarily excused from employment plan obligations, such as parents of a young child and those with a temporary illness or injury that prevents the person from working and requires medical treatment. These clients receive the same rate as clients that are expected to work. The temporarily excused category is expected to decline at a moderate rate over the next three years.

Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers (PPMB)

The PPMB category was created in September 2002 to recognize people who may be unable to achieve financial independence because of persistent multiple barriers to employment that are beyond the person's control. PPMB clients receive a higher rate of assistance than those who are expected to work. At the end of 2003, there were 11,480 PPMB cases. This number is expected to rise at a modest rate as the provincial population increases and ages.

Persons with Disabilities (PWD)

The Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Act recognizes that people with disabilities face unique challenges in daily living and may require ongoing assistance or supports to employment.

The PWD caseload has more than tripled in twenty years, from 15,840 in 1984/85 to an estimated 49,699 in 2003/04. The PWD caseload is expected to grow by approximately 5 per cent in 2004/05 and to rise to an estimated 56,400 in 2006/07 as the provincial population increases and ages.

Persons with Disabilities.

Caseload Distribution

As the temporary assistance caseload declines and the disability assistance caseload increases, the percentage of the total caseload receiving disability assistance is expected to climb to over 50 per cent by 2006/07. Given the change in the proportion of disability assistance cases to temporary assistance cases, the overall average cost per BCEA case will increase reflecting the higher rate of assistance provided to persons with disabilities.

Caseload Distribution.

Beginning in 2004/05, an additional $80 million was added to the Ministry of Human Resources' budget to accommodate:

  • a more modest rate of temporary assistance caseload decline than previously estimated and
  • a higher rate of growth for the disability assistance caseload than previously estimated.

Time Limits

The BC Employment and Assistance program encourages personal responsibility, emphasizing self-reliance through employment. Under the Employment and Assistance Act, temporary assistance recipients are expected to look for and accept employment. In order to further support a system based upon personal responsibility, the ministry established time limits for those able to work. This policy limits access to income assistance to a maximum of 24 out of 60 months, and encourages clients to take advantage of all opportunities that lead to employment.

There are 25 exemptions to the time limit policy. These include persons with disabilities, persons with persistent multiple barriers, pregnant women, and parents with children under the age of three. In addition, people with a mental illness, drug or alcohol problems, or other barriers are exempt where the condition interferes with their ability to search for, accept or continue in employment. People who exceed their time limit and continue to be compliant with their Employment Plan will not be affected by time limits. For a complete list of categories that are exempt as part of the time limits policy, please refer to the ministry's website (www.mhr.gov.bc.ca).


The Ministry of Human Resources will continue to:

  • work with employable people to support them in their efforts to gain employment and self-reliance;
  • assist persons with disabilities to achieve greater independence, whether in their daily life or in the workplace, while ensuring that those who are unable to work are provided with the assistance they need; and
  • work towards increasing public confidence that taxpayer dollars are being directed only to those most in need.


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