Residents of the Semiahmoo Peninsula have increased access to job-search support and resources, following the grand opening last week of the South Surrey/White Rock WorkBC Centre.
Business, First Nation and community members turned out for the event, held Friday at the 108-1688 152 St. facility.
The centre is one of five operated by MOSAIC (MultiLingual Orientation Service Association for Immigrant Communities) – a charity serving immigrant, refugee, migrant and mainstream communities in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley (as well as B.C. and overseas via online) – across four catchment areas, by contract with the provincial government.
Across B.C., there are 103 such centres in 45 catchments.
Director of employment Michael Radano said the contract awards were announced in late December, following a re-qualification program that took 18 months.
The WorkBC program replaced the Employment Program of B.C. as of April 1. Employment services in Cloverdale and White Rock were previously provided by Sources.
“It’s substantially the same, with some improvements,” Radano told Peace Arch News of the revamped program.
Services include employment planning, skills assessment and work-experience placement.
Radano said MOSAIC has partnered with groups including the Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society (ACCESS), Douglas College and the YMCA in an effort to provide services beyond the basics.
“People don’t come to us just for employment services,” he told attendees.
Radano told PAN the contract value for the South Surrey/White Rock site is just over $3 million. “One bucket” of funds is dedicated to supporting clients – which currently number between 400 and 500 – while a second “bucket” covers some of the base costs of operating. A third bucket, he said, is performance fees – funds received when clients reach employment milestones of four, 24 and 52 weeks.
The model, he said, “focuses less on activity and more on results.”
It’s a point Shane Simpson, minister of social development and poverty reduction, also emphasized.
“It really is a model now that is about providing better services and outcomes, not output,” Simpson told attendees.
He said the centre is “an incredibly important piece… for people looking for opportunities and needing some help.”
MOSAIC CEO Olga Stachova described the organization as a “strong advocate for social justice and equal opportunity.” The employment program began 30 years ago, she said, adding she is “very excited and humbled that the government has recognized” Mosaic’s work through the contracts.