New employment program brings new services but also some challenges

Jack Tieleman recently provided an update on the new employment service program to Ladysmith council.

About two months after Global Vocational Services took over the provision of employment services in Ladysmith, Jack Tieleman gave council an update, saying the new program offers more services but also has its challenges.

“We are the current employment service centre program facilitator in Ladysmith, taking over from Employment Navigators,” said Tieleman, chief operations officer for Global Vocational Services. “Obviously, it’s a big change; Employment Navigators has been part of this community for a long time.”

In April, the B.C. government unrolled a new employment program, explained Tieleman.

“It was the largest upheaval we’ve seen in our industry in 30 years,” he said. “It combined over 400 contracts in British Columbia into 73.”

Global Vocational Services launched the new program April 2 and opened its employment service centre at 11-740 First Ave.

“When the government rolled this new model out, it incorporated different things — it incorporated all the provincial programming, which is for people on income assistance, and incorporated all the employment programs in British Columbia and incorporated the federal programs as well,”said Tieleman. “So all the things that existed in the past will exist, and people will now have more access to things. The goal was to reduce the duplication of services and have one door where people could access services.”

Coun. Steve Arnett, who is chief executive officer of the Nanaimo Youth Services Association, wanted to make sure people know the effect of the changes on employment services.

“You and I both know that there are issues with this program,” he told Tieleman. “What I want to know as a town councillor, for the residents, is do you believe the unemployed and the services they were getting previously — and it’s not about Global — are getting the same level of service and are getting the same quality of service?”

In addition to amalgamating services, the provincial government launched a new Integrated Case Management System, a huge database with information from multiple ministries, explained Tieleman.

“It has an insane amount of information, and that has slowed this entire process down,” he said. “This database is cumbersome at best and a nightmare for others.”

Arnett pointed out that this new database also comes with a number of privacy concerns.

“Now, once you are in that system, you are in there forever,” he said. “If you are unemployed, and your name goes into my system, if you had any relatives that have had contact with child welfare, or someone’s been on assistance 20 years ago, that stuff all pops up.”

Arnett also raised concerns about taking away from the time employment counsellors spend with clients and about access for people in rural areas who have transportation issues.

Tieleman agreed there have been privacy concerns and told council that rural employment agencies on the Island are working together to bring their concerns forward. The Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Child and Family Services share the Integrated Case Management System.

“The government has vowed from the start that this would not be an issue, and they’re looking to correct all these privacy breaches,” he said.