It is my pleasure to present the Annual Report of the Ministry of Human Resources for the 2003/04 fiscal year.
The ministry has continued to build on the successful implementation of new legislation that redesigned British Columbia's income assistance system (Employment and Assistance Act and Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Act, passed April 2002).
This new system provides assistance for British Columbians most in need while creating greater opportunities for employment for those clients who are able to work.
The ministry has made significant progress for clients in need of continuous support — people with disabilities. The earnings exemption was increased for the second consecutive year and is now $400 per month. A $20 million Disability Supports for Employment endowment — managed by the Vancouver Foundation — was established to provide supports that assist people with disabilities in the workplace. People with disabilities receive the highest rates of assistance offered by the ministry and have access to specialized programs and services to assist them to improve their independence and their lives.
In the past year, the ministry also redeveloped and expanded its suite of employment programs to meet the changing needs of clients and assist them in attaining jobs. New programs include the Bridging Employment program — for clients who have experienced abuse, and the English as a Second Language Training for Jobs program — where clients can improve their English and gain access to technical training. For clients receiving temporary assistance, the ministry focused on providing support and employment programs. This has resulted in the expected to work caseload dropping by more than half as these clients find jobs, leave income assistance and achieve self-reliance.
Our approach is working: since this government came to office, 87,000 former clients no longer rely on income assistance and the system is being made more sustainable for British Columbians in the future.
As part of an initiative to provide cost-effective and affordable services in 2003/04 the ministry completed its regional realignment to match boundaries and share common work assignments with the Ministry of Children and Family Development and Ministry of Health Services. The Ministry of Human Resources continued our service delivery improvements with an emphasis on using new technology to improve accessibility for our clients in remote locations and during off-hours.
The ministry's accomplishments to date are a direct result of the expertise and professionalism shown by its staff in their service to communities across the province. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their exemplary dedication to supporting our clients achieve better futures for themselves and their families.
Honourable Stan Hagen
Minister of Human Resources
Message from the Deputy Minister
The 2003/04 Annual Service Plan Report of the Ministry of Human Resources reflects the ministry's activities over the past three years as it has redefined income assistance through the British Columbia Employment and Assistance program. The ministry has changed the culture of income assistance to one of self-reliance, active participation and independence.
The British Columbia Employment and Assistance program is designed to reflect the importance of employment as fundamental to individual and family well-being. Through the program, clients are equipped with the tools, such as the Employment Plan, to aid them in setting and meeting goals to successfully enter the labour market. Clients take personal responsibility for their job search and skills development to become independent of income assistance. Performance-based employment programs provide sustained job placement opportunities for clients.
At the same time, support is provided to individuals who require continuous assistance because of personal circumstances and barriers to employment. Persons with disabilities receive a range of services to further their independence. For those seeking employment, the ministry has implemented employment and pre-employment programs for clients with varying abilities to work.
Over the past three years, service delivery within the ministry has been streamlined to reflect the changing size and nature of the caseload. Improved policies and practices, as well as electronic service delivery have been introduced to meet client needs more effectively and efficiently. There are 112 offices across British Columbia and 1,896 full-time ministry employees to serve clients.
Through these accomplishments, the ministry is making significant progress in achieving its mandate of assisting people into sustainable employment and providing income assistance to those in need.