Training supports from Work BC afterall

Authority Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation

Monica had been working for over 30 years but couldn’t do the same kind of work any longer because of a disability. When her employment insurance payments ended, she went to the ministry where staff referred her to a Work BC Employment Service Centre, contracted by the ministry, to help her get the training she needed to change careers.

Monica said staff at the Employment Service Centre advised her how to proceed and that she believed she did everything she was told to do. She contacted us with a complaint about a vocational rehabilitation specialist at the Employment Service Centre. She said that by following the instructions she received, she had suffered financially and was no further ahead.

Monica explained she completed the prerequisites for a course on the advice of the specialist, only to discover after the fact that she wasn’t eligible to enroll. She said that the specialist hadn’t registered her in courses as he had claimed. He hadn’t ensured that she had the prerequisites for other courses and so she couldn’t enroll. She said the specialist had delayed her access to training and encouraged her to apply for income assistance. Monica said by relying on the specialist’s advice, after almost one year, she still hadn’t received any training and that her financial situation worsened as a result of following the specialist’s advice.

When she found a program she was qualified for and wanted to register, she contacted the Employment Service Centre, but said they refused to fund any training until she was able to demonstrate that she could be financially stable for at least 60 days. She thought this was unfair because she believed the Employment Service Centre had contributed to her financial instability.

We notified the ministry of our investigation as the ministry contracts with the Employment Service Centre to help people like Monica find work. We wanted to ensure the ministry followed a reasonable procedure in providing career and training support services through the Employment Service Centre to Monica. We reviewed the ministry’s goals in referring clients to the Employment Service Centre and the Centre’s mandate. We discussed Monica’s concerns in detail with staff at the ministry and asked the ministry to review the file with the Centre.

The Centre acknowledged to the ministry that Monica’s concerns about the events that led to her being in debt were legitimate. The specialist in question was no longer employed at the Centre and some information was not able to be verified. However, based on the information provided, the Centre apologized to Monica for the financial hardship she experienced. It agreed to assist Monica by repaying a debt of $3,134 that she had incurred from the ministry in the form of repayable hardship assistance while she was a client of the Centre. Repayment of the debt meant she became eligible to receive funding for the college program that she believed would lead to employment. The Centre provided Maria with full training supports, including moving expenses and a damage deposit so Monica could relocate into more affordable housing, tuition and a living allowance. We considered these steps to resolve Monica’s complaint.

Category Income and Benefits
Type Case Summary
Fiscal Year 2013
Location Vancouver Island / Sunshine Coast