Employment Program of British Columbia

Overview

As of April 2, 2012, the Employment Program of British Columbia (EPBC) is the ministry’s one-stop employment program.  EPBC replaced Labour Market Development Agreement (LMDA) employment programs and services, and provincial employment programs for BC Employment Assistance (BCEA) recipients – including British Columbia Employment Program (BCEP), Community Assistance Program (CAP), Bridging Employment Programs (BEP) and Employment Program for Persons with Disabilities (EPPD) – that were available prior to April 2, 2012.  The EPBC integrates services from these former programs into a single, comprehensive employment program. EPBC services include self-serve job search services, as well as client needs assessment, case management and other employment service options, for those needing more individualized services, to prepare for, find and maintain sustainable employment. 

EPBC services are available to all unemployed British Columbians seeking work, including ministry income assistance and disability assistance clients.  The purpose of having BCEA clients participate in the EPBC is to assist them to achieve employment as quickly as possible, and to become more independent.

The ministry will identify clients with employment obligations for formal referral to EPBC for case management:  

  • Applicants will be identified at intake using the Integrated Case Management system. 
  • Existing clients will be identified for referral based on eligibility criteria [see Procedures]. 

Clients who are identified for referral to EPBC – whether by the system or through referral criteria – will be referred, unless they meet ministry non-referral criteria. 

Clients who are not identified for referral will be encouraged to access EPBC self-serve services through their local WorkBC Employment Service Centre. If identified by the EPBC service provider as needing more intensive case management services, these clients, including Persons with Disabilities and Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers, can receive EPBC case management.  The EPBC will provide employment services available to PWD and PPMB clients prior to April 2, 2012, such as those provided under EPPD and CAP.

As of September 1, 2015, the EPBC launched the Single Parent Employment Initiative (SPEI).  Sole recipients with dependent children or supported children are eligible to participate in SPEI and will be referred to EPBC upon meeting the eligibility criteria for income assistance.

While participating in approved training through SPEI, recipients are eligible to remain on income assistance.

The ministry will identify income assistance clients with employment obligations for formal referral to EPBC for SPEI case management:

  • New income assistance recipients will be formally referred to EPBC at intake
  • Existing income assistance clients will be formally referred to EPBC when their existing Employment Plan expires. [see Procedures]. 

Sole recipients who have the Persons with Disabilities designation and who have a dependent child or provide care for a supported child can also participate in SPEI, and can self-refer themselves to EPBC. 

[For more information on Single Parent Employment Initiative eligibility, see Related Links – Education and Training.]

Policy

Effective: September 1, 2015

The ministry will identify employment-obligated clients for formal referral to the Employment Program of British Columbia (EPBC).  These clients will be scheduled for an EPBC employment needs assessment to confirm the need for EPBC case management and determine client employment and service needs. Clients may not be referred to the EPBC if they meet one of the ministry’s non-referral reasons.

Employment-obligated clients not identified for EPBC referral are encouraged to access EPBC’s self-serve services.

Clients with no employment obligations, who are seeking to become employed and who could benefit from EPBC services, are also encouraged to access EPBC services through their local WorkBC Employment Services Centre.

If an EPBC service provider identifies a BC Employment Assistance (BCEA) client with employment obligations who has not been formally referred by the ministry, and who would benefit from and wants to participate in EPBC case management, the EPBC service provider may request a formal EPBC referral from the ministry.  EPBC requested referrals should not be withheld unless the client is inappropriate for referral, based on the ministry’s non-referral reasons, or has outstanding obligations that should be completed under an existing Employment Plan (e.g., completion of a non-ministry program).

For self-referred clients who are accepted into EPBC case management and have employment obligations, the EPBC service provider will use a system service request to request a formal EPBC referral and new Employment Plan from the ministry on behalf of the client.

Clients may be eligible for some EPBC services and supports in addition to EPBC self-serve services without being case managed by EPBC.  These may include financial or other supports, when needed for job search or for starting employment, e.g., short term certificate courses required as a condition of employment for a confirmed job.  [For more information on EPBC financial supports for Clients with confirmed job offers, see Related Links- Confirmed Job Supplement].

Effective: April 2, 2012

For most clients, their Employment Program of British Columbia (EPBC) Action Plan will assist them in obtaining employment as quickly as possible. For some clients, achieving employment may be a long-term goal.  These clients can be supported to achieve community attachment when they are not yet ready or able to achieve employment.

When clients who are case managed by the EPBC obtain employment or self-employment, this information is communicated to the ministry through the system. Employment Plans must be updated as the client’s circumstances change.

BC Employment and Assistance clients who are not employment obligated and who are not yet able to achieve employment can be supported in achieving community attachment.  Clients who achieve a community attachment outcome will also be encouraged to return to the EPBC as soon as they have achieved a higher level of employment readiness and are ready and able to work towards labour market attachment.​

Procedures

Effective: November 24, 2014

At intake, applicants may be identified for formal referral to the Employment Program of British Columbia (EPBC) by the Integrated Case Management system (ICM).  For applicants who are not identified at intake by the system for formal referral to the EPBC, staff will create a non-EPBC Employment Plan. [see Resources for Staff- Employment Plan Standards], and should encourage the applicant to access EPBC’s self-serve services through their local WorkBC Employment Service Centre.  The only exception to this is where the applicant is already being case managed by EPBC; in this case, they should be given an EPBC Employment Plan.

Existing clients may be referred to the EPBC when they meet one of the following criteria:

  • the client’s existing Employment Plan (EP) has expired / is expiring;
  • a client who was not formerly subject to employment obligations becomes Expected to Work or Expected to Work – Medical Condition; or
  • the client is Expected to Work or Expected to Work – Medical Condition, but there is no EP on file;
  • the client initially met EPBC non-referral criteria of “able to secure employment without support or has imminent employment pending,” but is still in need of income assistance after 6 months; or
  • the client has had 6 months to resolve a short-term medical condition or other temporary barrier to participation, and is now ready for EPBC referral.
  • the client is a sole recipient with one or more dependent children or supported children, and is eligible to participate in the Single Parent Employment Initiative.

Effective: November 24, 2014

For all clients who are identified for formal referral to the Employment Program of British Columbia (EPBC), the Employment and Assistance Worker (EAW) will:

  1. Assess whether the client meets any of the ministry’s non-referral reasons.
  2. If the client is appropriate for referral, develop an EPBC Employment Plan (EP) in the system.
  3. Explain the client’s responsibilities for compliance with their EP.
  4. Have the client sign the EP and place a copy on the client’s file.
  5. Give a copy of the EP to the client.

Where a client needs a new EP and is already being case managed by EPBC (i.e., client shows in ICM as “Accepted into EPBC Case Management”), the EAW will develop an EPBC EP and refer the client to EPBC following the above process, with the exception that Step 1 is not required.  For applicants at intake already working with EPBC, an EPBC referral is required whether or not the applicant was identified by the system for formal referral. 

Where a client meets the non-referral reason of “able to secure employment without support or has imminent employment pending”, if they are otherwise suitable for EPBC referral, the EAW should develop a Dual EP for Supervised Independent Work Search (SIWS) and EPBC.  This will allow a 6-month period of SIWS participation during which the client can conduct a work search or begin their employment.  After 6 months, if the client is still in need of income assistance, the EAW sends the client the EPBC Referral from Combined EP Letter (HR3548) to advise the client that the EPBC portion of their EP is now in effect, and sends EPBC a Program Referral. 

Where a client has a short-term medical condition or other temporary barrier that prevents immediate participation in EPBC, if they will be suitable for EPBC referral within 6 months, the EAW should develop a Dual EP for Activities Toward Independence (ATI) and EPBC.  This will allow a 6-month ATI period for the client to recover or otherwise address their barrier(s).  After 6 months, when the situation preventing EPBC participation has resolved, the EAW sends the client the EPBC Referral from Combined EP Letter (HR3548) to advise that the EPBC portion of their EP is now in effect, and sends EPBC a Program Referral. 

[For more information, see Related Links - Employment Plan - Procedures for Dual EPs.]

Clients who are referred to EPBC will be scheduled for a Formal Needs Assessment by the EPBC service provider to confirm the need for EPBC case management and determine client employment needs.

Existing clients whose EPBC EP is expiring may be given another EPBC EP if they are still working with EPBC, but they do not require another formal program referral.   For these clients, the above EP process is the same, with the following exceptions: 

  • Step 1 is not required; and
  • Another formal program referral to EPBC in the system is not required, as these clients have already had a Formal Needs Assessment.

Where an EPBC service provider requests a formal program referral for a BC Employment and Assistance employment-obligated client who could benefit from case management, the process is the same, with the following exceptions:

  1. The EAW will explain the responsibilities and obligation to participate in EPBC services in the new, revised EP to the client by telephone where possible (unless the client is already in, or will soon be visiting, the office).  The EAW will call the client or the client will call the ministry office. This is intended to eliminate the requirement for the client to attend a ministry office. 
  2. If the EAW makes telephone contact with the client, he or she sends the EP to the EPBC service provider for the client to sign. 
  3. Following the EPBC service provider confirming the client’s need of and acceptance for case management, and the client signing the new, revised EP, the EPBC service provider will scan the signed EP into the system and give the original signed version to the client. 

Where client contact by telephone is not possible, the client may need to attend an office to discuss and sign their new, revised EP.  In this case, the process is the same as for formal referrals. 

Note that EPBC service providers do not have the authority or responsibility to explain BCEA eligibility criteria, policies or EP requirements to clients.  This must be done by the EAW prior to the client signing the EP. 

If clients with a Dual EP self-refer to EPBC during the initial 6-month period of their Dual EP and are accepted for EPBC case management, the EAW sends the client the EPBC Self-Referral from Combined EP Letter (HR3549).  This letter advises the client that the EPBC portion of their EP is now in effect.  A new EP is not required, as the Dual EP contains the requirements for EPBC participation as well as the requirements for the initial 6-month EP type (i.e., ATI or SIWS). 

Clients with No Employment Obligations are not required to have a formal program referral or a Voluntary Participation Plan in order to participate in EPBC case management.  Case managed clients will develop an Action Plan with the EPBC.  Ministry staff may request a copy of the EPBC Action Plan from the client.

When enrolling any client into training as part of the Single Parent Employment Initiative, EPBC will complete a new employment plan with the client, outlining the details of the training, and send to the ministry via system service request. 

Suitable clients who are not formally referred to EPBC, including those with No Employment Obligations, should be encouraged to access their local WorkBC Employment Services Centre.  An optional Introduction Card is available to support clients who need additional encouragement to attend.  [See Additional Resources – BCEA Client Introduction Card.]

If staff are unsure about encouraging a vulnerable client to access their local storefront WorkBC Employment Services Centre (ESC), they can contact the storefront to ask if there is a specific location that might be better suited to the needs of a particular client. 

EPBC service providers will communicate with ministry staff on matters specifically related to supporting participation of case managed BCEA clients in EPBC services and meeting requirements for ongoing BCEA eligibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Question    Which BC Employment and Assistance clients are referred to the Employment Program of British Columbia (EPBC)?

Answer   Applicants with employment obligations will be identified for referral to the EPBC using the Assisted Eligibility tool in ICM.

Existing clients may be referred to the EPBC when:

  • The client’s existing Employment Plan has expired / is expiring;
  • A client who was not formerly subject to employment obligations becomes Expected To Work or Expected To Work – Medical Condition;
  • A client is Expected to Work or Expected to Work – Medical Condition, but there is no EP on file;
  • The client initially met EPBC non-referral criteria of “able to secure employment without support or has imminent employment pending,” but is still in need of income assistance after 6 months; or
  • The client has had 6 months to resolve a short-term medical condition or other temporary barrier to participation, and is now ready for an EPBC referral. 
  • The client is a sole recipient with one or more dependent children, and is eligible to participate in the Single Parent Employment Initiative.

Formal referrals may also be requested by EPBC service providers for employment-obligated clients who are already accessing EPBC self-serve services and could benefit from EPBC case management.  These are currently the only two means of referral to EPBC.

Clients who are not identified for formal referral to the EPBC should be encouraged to access their local WorkBC Employment Services Centre to access EPBC self-serve services.

 

Question   What are Dual EPs, and why should staff use them?

Answer   Dual EPs are employment plans that include requirements for both an initial six month period of either ATI or SIWS, followed by a two-year EPBC participation period.

Dual EPs allow staff to refer clients who appear capable of independent job search to SIWS for an initial six month period, followed by a referral to EPBC if the client’s job search is not successful, without the need to create a new EP. 

Similarly, for clients with short-term medical conditions or other temporary barriers, Dual EPs allow an initial six month period for the client to recuperate or otherwise resolve their barriers, followed by a referral to EPBC, without the need to create a new EP.

 

Question   When should clients get an ATI-Only or SIWS-Only EP instead of a Dual EP for ATI/EPBC or for SIWS/EPBC?

Answer   Clients that are not suitable for EPBC, and will not be suitable for EPBC referral within 6 months, should be given an EP that does not include EPBC.  If ATI or SIWS is the most appropriate EP type for the client, then the client should get an ATI-Only or SIWS-Only EP.  If another EP type, such as ASETS or Non-Ministry is the most appropriate for the client, then the client should get that EP type.

ATI-Only and SIWS-Only plans should be the exception.  Dual EPs should be the norm for clients who are not identified for immediate EPBC referral or meet non-referral criteria of “able to secure employment without support or has imminent employment pending,” but who are otherwise suitable for EPBC.

 

Question   If a client’s EPBC Employment Plan (EP) is expiring, and they are still working with EPBC, can they be re-referred to EPBC?

Answer   Another formal Program Referral is not required for clients when their EPBC EP expires, if they are still working with EPBC.  These clients may be given another EPBC EP with the normal two-year EP term.

 

Question   If a client was previously referred to EPBC, but was not accepted for case management, or was accepted for case management but their EPBC file was subsequently closed, can the client be re-referred to EPBC?

Answer   Clients may be re-referred to EPBC if the reason for their non-acceptance has been resolved, or if the circumstances that led to their EPBC file closure have changed.

 

Question   Can a client with Persons with Disabilities (PWD) designation or their spouse be referred to the Employment Program of British Columbia (EPBC)?  What about a client with Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers (PPMB) status?

Answer   Clients with no employment obligations are not formally referred to the EPBC, however, PWD and PPMB clients who are seeking employment and would benefit from EPBC services will be encouraged to access their local WorkBC Employment Services Centre to access EPBC services.  These clients do not require a Voluntary Participation Plan (VPP) in order to participate in EPBC services.

 

Question   Do clients with No Employment Obligations (NEO) need a Voluntary Participation Plan (VPP) in order to participate in Employment Programs of British Columbia services?

Answer   No, clients with NEO are not required to have a VPP. The EPBC service provider will work with the client to develop an Action Plan, which is sufficient for NEO clients.  Ministry staff may request a copy of the Action Plan from the client if required.

 

Question   Do clients with No Employment Obligations (NEO) need an employment plan (EP) in order to participate in training through EPBC services?

Answer   If a NEO client is enrolled by EPBC into full-time training under the Single Parent Employment Initiative, an EP is required.

 

Question   What happens if an employment-obligated client completes all the activities and services agreed to in their EPBC Action Plan, but are still not independent of BCEA?

Answer   In such cases, if the client no longer requires EPBC case management, EPBC will:

  • close the client’s EPBC case using the closure reason Employment Not Achieved,
  • notify the ministry through the system, and
  • encourage these clients to continue using EPBC self-serve services.

When an EPBC case is closed because the client no longer needs EPBC case management, a new employment plan is required.  Typically, the EAW would create a Dual EP for Supervised Independent Work Search and EPBC (SIWS/EPBC), and encourage the client to access EPBC self-serve services.  This allows the client to job search for six months, followed by a re-referral to EPBC if the client’s job search is not successful.  EPBC can then re-assess the client to determine if they need further EPBC services.

 

Question   What services are available under the Single Parent Employment Initiative (SPEI)?

Answer   WorkBC Case Managers will assess eligible clients to determine what services will be most effective for assisting the client to become employed. The Case Manager will review the client’s aptitude and background as well as the local job market – and determine which supports they need to find sustainable employment.

  • Up to 12 months of funded training for in-demand jobs or a paid work experience placement;
  • Transit costs to and from school, if required;
  • Child-care costs during their training or work placement and in the first year of employment;
  • Exemptions for bursaries, scholarships and grants for single parents in approved training programs.

Single parents who have been assessed as requiring training will be able to remain on income assistance while they attend the training program. They will be required to sign an updated employment plan outlining the details of the training.

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