During the 2003/04 fiscal year the ministry continued to focus on employment and self-reliance and ensuring that those most in need received assistance. Major accomplishments this year included: assisting clients to independence; implementing the employment strategy for persons with disabilities; improving access and service delivery; and providing emergency social services to the victims of disasters faced by British Columbians in 2003.
Moving Clients to Independence
Employment is important to the overall health of BC's economy and to the well-being of individual British Columbians. The ministry's emphasis on moving clients to employment resulted in a continued decline in the number of individuals and families who received assistance. In March 2004, there were 87,000 fewer British Columbians who relied on income assistance, compared to June 2001.
Ministry employment programs, such as the Job Placement and Training for Jobs programs, contributed to the reduction in cases. Employment plans establish, for clients who are able to work, clear expectations to achieve independence. These plans are a key tool for motivating people and helping them focus on employment goals. Employment plans provided access to resources that help clients find jobs or acquire the skills they need to succeed in today's workplace.
The average number of cases that received assistance declined by 14,509 cases or 11.1 per cent since fiscal year 2002/03. The significant decline in two-parent (-25.6 per cent) and single-parent families (20.0 per cent) means that there were 12,587 fewer children whose parents relied on income assistance. By reducing parents' dependency on assistance the ministry is breaking the culture of generational welfare dependency.
BC Employment and Assistance (BCEA) Cases by Family Type1
|| Average 2002/03
|| Average 2003/04
|| Average Change
|| Average Change (Per cent)
| BCEA Cases by Family Type
| Single Men
| Single Women
| Child in Home of Relative
| Two-Parent Families
| Single Parent Families
The average number of clients who received temporary assistance declined by 28,337 (33.9 per cent) since fiscal year 2002/03. Temporary assistance was provided to clients who were capable of financial independence through employment, or were unable to seek work because of a short-term condition. The decline in temporary assistance cases is attributed to a number of external and internal factors, including a growing economy and robust employment. Ministry related factors included the success of programming that assists clients to move to sustained employment and self-reliance.
The average number of clients who received continuous assistance increased in fiscal year 2003/04. Continuous assistance was provided to eligible individuals who were not expected to gain full financial independence through employment, including clients with disabilities and those with multiple barriers to employment.
BCEA Cases by Type of Assistance (March 2003 – March 2004)
||Average Change (Per cent)
| Temporary Assistance
| Continuous Assistance
Employment Strategy for Persons with Disabilities
The Ministry of Human Resources introduced the Employment Strategy for Persons with Disabilities in April 2002 and continued the development of the strategy throughout 2003/04. The strategy focuses on new skills, training services and employment-related programs that assist persons with disabilities into the labour market and improve their employment outcomes.
Components of the Employment Strategy for Persons with Disabilities included:
The Minister's Council on Employment for Persons with Disabilities
The principle goal of the Minister's Council on Employment for Persons with Disabilities is to advise the Minister of Human Resources on strategies for increasing the employment, employability and independence of persons with disabilities, particularly through partnerships with business and industry throughout BC.
The Minister's Council is a "call to action" and a positive challenge to BC's business community.
The Disability Supports to Employment Fund
The Ministry of Human Resources established a $20 million Disability Supports for Employment Fund administered by the Vancouver Foundation. This fund provides specialized accommodation, tools and services to support people with disabilities in the workplace. Employment supports include: aids for hearing, seeing, mobility or agility; adaptations to computer hardware and software; and vehicle or structural modifications.
The Employment Program for Persons with Disabilities (EPPD)
EPPD is a specialized employment program for persons with disabilities who wish to participate more fully in their community. The program supports employment-related activities for those working part-time, full-time, in self-employment or in voluntary employment.
Streamlining Service Delivery
Since June 2001, the ministry's income assistance caseload fell by 87,000 people as a result of the ministry's shift in focus — moving people towards sustainable employment while continuing to assist those most in need. During this time the ministry has also placed almost 30,000 income assistance clients in jobs, and the number of clients with employment related obligations — those who are able to work — dropped by over 70 per cent. As a result, the ministry was able to provide effective services to clients across the province with fewer resources. By March 31, 2004 the Ministry of Human Resources amalgamated 27 offices across the province.
During the summer and fall of 2003, British Columbians experienced major fire and flooding across the province. Emergency Social Services (ESS) responded by providing support to individuals and families affected by these major disasters.
Firestorm 2003 was the largest incident involving Emergency Social Services in British Columbia's history. Over 37,000 people registered with ESS at 17 reception centres and five group lodging facilities across the province. Over 6,000 volunteers, municipal and regional district staff, and ministry employees responded to this emergency.
In October 2003 alone ESS provided support and assistance to over 1,400 people involved in five major floods and storms, 21 house fires and an apartment fire. In total, ESS responded to 297 incidents throughout the year and provided emergency support to over 40,000 British Columbians.