by Andru McCracken

According to its Executive Director, Lina Thompson, Robson Valley Community Services (RVCS) is the new sub-contractor for WorkBC in Valemount. RVCS currently provides WorkBC services in McBride.

In December the Rocky Mountain Goat reported that the Valemount Learning Centre would no longer be the subcontractor in Valemount after 25 years in the role.

On February 6, the province announced that WCG International Consultants Ltd. won the bid to provide services in Valemount, Mackenzie and Prince George. RVCS will sub-contract for that company.

Thompson said that they learned there would be changes in August 2018, including elimination of WorkBC services in McBride.

“For our region, the ministry only required store fronts in Valemount, Prince George and Mackenzie,” said Thompson. “Of course, we were very disappointed that smaller communities like McBride appeared to be overlooked

She said that the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction reported similar caseload numbers in McBride and Valemount.

RVCS currently provides general support services across the Robson Valley, with offices in both McBride and Valemount.

“Last year we served 2400 people living in the Robson Valley. It is our intention to provide employment support to residents of McBride no matter what the future holds. I hope to share more concrete plans in the near future,” she said.

McBride Mayor Gene Runtz is not happy with the news of the closure of the McBride office. Runtz said that direct job losses aside, the community is losing connections they need to government services.

“I think it’s just terrible,” said Runtz. “I can’t even believe they are doing it. Especially with the issues we have with jobs that have left.”

“If anything, we need more people to help us get employment here. We need professionals that know about communities and to help things change, not just pull out.”

According to the province, WorkBC has actually increased the number of WorkBC centres from 103 locations up from 84.

A press release from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction said WorkBC will offer better services for people who need support to re-enter the workforce, access training opportunities and find good jobs.

“Many people trying to find work face barriers to opportunity. They need a hand overcoming those barriers to take the next step to meet their goals,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “That’s why we are refocusing WorkBC on delivering results for people. Improving accessibility and moving to more personalized supports will make it easier for more people to find good, stable jobs so they can provide for themselves and their families.”