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  • June 16, 2023 11:08 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    There is a ton of information that I want to share with you this week. Our special observances and celebrations survey, the ASPECT Conference call for presenters, the research about social services and work-integrated learning, the employment strategy for youth with disabilities interface, and our latest topic for a member discussion about how we as a sector support communities when hit by natural disasters such as wildfires and floods. The one bit of important information I will profile here is the announcement of ASPECT's new president and the acknowledgement of our past president. 

    New President for ASPECT

    Lori Forgeron is a seasoned executive with over 25 years of experience providing employment and career development services in BC. Holding a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from St. Francis Xavier University, Lori has always been interested in working to bring people living with unique barriers into the workforce.
    Starting her career working with survivors of domestic violence, Lori experienced firsthand the difficulties faced by disenfranchised and under-represented individuals as they sought employment, specifically in the North-Central region of the province. Today, Lori is the owner and CEO of Workforce Development Consulting, a Northern-based employment agency that works with marginalized people and communities to provide them with a wide range of skills training, employment and career counselling, and social-emotional skills training programs.
    In addition to her degree, Lori now holds certification as a Career Development Practitioner and numerous certifications in working with specific demographics such as those experiencing barriers related to mental health and addictions, differently-abled job seekers, and youth. Additionally, Lori is certified to deliver numerous testing and assessment tools to support workers in achieving improved employability.
    Lori has been a long-term organizational member of ASPECT and a board of directors member for two two-year terms. She is honoured to move into the role of board president. She hopes to continue to support the advocacy work underway and plans to work collaboratively with the CEO and board members to ensure that ASPECT continues to represent the employment service providers community in British Columbia.  

    Thank You to our Past President

    Val Meaney came to become ASPECT's president at a time when the WorkBC 2018 contract announcement left some of our existing board members without jobs, choosing to retire, or having fulfilled maximum service terms on the board. We had an exodus of eight board members at once!

    Although I had met Val once in 2016, I didn't know her well, and when I asked others who of the new board applicants would make a good leader for ASPECT, Val's name came up several times. I remember that first phone call when I asked her to serve as president. The volunteer position is a large time commitment, and except for two fairly new returning board members (one with a new business and the other with a young child), she would be leading the 7-person board of brand new board members. A huge ask of someone you barely know!

    Val was amazing and led ASPECT with dedication, generosity, and a little bit of humour. Personally, she became my friend outside of work, and I feel like I am a better person for knowing her. I am not the only one who feels this way. Here are some messages for Val from her fellow board members:

    It has been truly a pleasure working with you. Your demeanour, support, and guidance are something that I will always remember. ~ Raj Hundal, Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society (PICS) 
    Thank you so much for your incredible leadership, not only of ASPECT but also in our sector. You have been an amazing support! ~ Tricia Gueulette, Beacon Community Services
    Val, I so appreciated your balanced leadership as ASPECT president. Your combination of skills, sector knowledge, collaborative style, and thoughtful approach inspired trust from the sector as we navigated some challenging years. ~ Kim Lauritsen, Community Futures North Okanagan
    Val has guided us through the last few years with integrity and an innate ability to be fair and objective. She has represented ASPECT well to the community and funders with her wit, her articulation, and her enduring dedication to the industry. ~ Deborah Bromley, ETHOS Career Management Group

    What a joy it has been to work with you. Your leadership has reflected your wisdom, energy, and sense of humour. You have guided us to be a cohesive and enjoyable group. With deepest appreciation. ~ Peter Bailey, Free Rein Associates

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO
  • June 09, 2023 12:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    New Pre-Conference Workshop Announcement!

    I'm delighted to announce that we will offer a pre-conference in-person workshop before the ASPECT Conference in November. In response to the challenges facing employment service provider staff and the increase in multi-barriered clients, Dr. Catherine Hajnal and Seanna Quressette, MEd, CCDP, will present a full-day workshop for 50 attendees called Mental Health Strategies for CDPs. This workshop will take place at the conference hotel, Sheraton Vancouver Airport in Richmond, on Wednesday, November 1.

    Participants will leave this workshop with concrete strategies to support clients and CDPs with mental health challenges. Participants will gain solid information about mental health. If folks have already taken Mental Health First Aid training, this workshop will build on this content. The workshop will cover:

    ·       Neurobiology and mental health

    ·       Strategies to support mental health

    ·       Making appropriate referrals

    ·       Handling mental health conversations

    ·       Working with suicide ideation

    You must register for the workshop separately from the conference. Also, you don't need to attend the conference in order to attend the pre-conference workshop. Click here to register.

    Hotel & Travel

    The ASPECT Conference hotel room booking link is now active. We secured the room rate before the pandemic at $219 CAD plus tax for a standard room. Last year our room block sold out well before the deadline (this year's deadline is October 4) and had many of you scrambling. I encourage you to book early, especially those who are bringing your teams with you.

    We have again secured travel discounts from West Jet and Air Canada. Booking codes and details can be found on the ASPECT website.


    The Call for Presenters Continues until June 26

    You have just over two weeks to submit a presenter proposal for the ASPECT Conference. The conference is an excellent opportunity for you to share the work you have been doing with your peers. Presenters receive a complimentary conference registration (limitations apply), which is a good way to reduce your conference attendance costs and prepare you for the next step on the career ladder or add to your accomplishments on your LinkedIn profile. 

    Again, we are working on the program for the conference and will be sure to have it ready for you this summer. You can expect the ASPECT Conference to be the high-quality, engaging event that you've come to expect.

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO

  • June 02, 2023 10:03 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ASPECT Communications Manager Pamela Daoust
    and me at the Legislature for ASPECT's presentation
    to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and
    Governmental Affairs.

    Did you know that ASPECT presents each year to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services our sector's priorities in the context of the provincial government's annual budget consultations? One of ten permanent committees of the Legislative Assembly, the committee listened to ASPECT's presentation, which focused this year on further investment to tackle three current issues in British Columbia:

    • The province-wide housing crisis.
    • Making BC's job market more inclusive and adapting to the changing labour market.
    • Funding inequity for rural and remote employment services

     The lack of affordable housing is a significant barrier to employment and can potentially shrink our economy. We applauded the provincial government's efforts in this area and asked for continued investment in tax rebates and economic supports.

    We also applauded the government's efforts in making BC's job market more inclusive with its new StrongerBC: Future Ready Action Plan. Helping people navigate their future jobs by identifying best fits and educational options can be a strong economic driver but is currently minimally funded. We asked that the government invest in mid-career career services in addition to the current pre-employment services. 

    As demonstrated in ASPECT's most recent report Refocusing the Urban Lens for Rural & Remote Employment Services, employment service providers in rural and remote locations have lived with the inequities of workforce development funding for many years when compared to that of urban areas. Per our research findings, we recommended that funding move away from population-based targets and focus on the realities of delivering services in unique regions.  

    ASPECT's team intends to focus on these priorities in its upcoming advocacy efforts, regularly including them in communication and public relations tools and pieces. Our work here is not done; we must continue until change happens. Click here for a copy of ASPECT's presentation.

    If you would like to submit your recommendations for the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Governmental Affairs, you can do so until June 16 using their online form.

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO
  • May 26, 2023 12:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Let the voting begin!

    Our new communications manager, Pamela Daoust, asked me what observance and holiday celebrations ASPECT notes in our Aspectives newsletter. It's a question I have never found the right answer to in the 7 years I have been producing the Aspectives newsletter. Quite often, I'm not aware of a special day of recognition until after it has passed. I worry that my colonialist lens may be leaving important dates out when my goal for ASPECT is to be an inclusive and diverse organization that shows leadership in this area. We've noticed over the years that while some of our members punctually celebrate traditional or religious holidays, others observe few holidays, and others dutifully mark their calendars with non-traditional celebrations and observances.

    Pamela has deeply explored what days, weeks, or holidays we might observe. She has consulted the BC Government communications department for a list, the municipal lists, the UN and the UNDRIP lists, all producing an extensive collection of dates that could leave us in a perpetual state of celebration, or worse, having us grudgingly choose between a vast array of celebrations.

    Help Us Choose

    In short, we can't decide and are asking for your help to participate in this process to help us pick and choose those moments that are important to you and your community that we should recognize in Aspectives. Please take a moment to vote for what dates we should observe and add to this list if we have forgotten anything.

    Asking for your help is a community development project that could go horribly wrong, but I'm willing to take the risk. We will leave the survey open until mid-July. In the meantime, a few dates I missed, some that are in progress, and some that are yet to come: 


    Let the voting begin!
    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO

  • May 12, 2023 12:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The province released its StrongerBC: Future Ready Action Plan last week. It is a good response to the future needs for BC, addressing the more than one million job openings in the next 9 years. If you have read the BC Labour Market Outlook 2022-2032 report, you'll know that "80 percent of job openings over the next ten years will require some form of post-secondary education or training." (p.3)

    As a lifelong learner, I'm delighted with the plan to make post-secondary education more affordable and accessible and for increased micro-credentialing. The extension of tuition waivers for all formerly in care, the expanded training for people with disabilities, augmented Indigenous training programs, and streamlining BC newcomer credential recognition are all excellent supports. The $3,500 training grant for people to train or upskill for in-demand jobs is also appealing. I also tried out the supporting website that helps people navigate their way forward to take advantage of a new career path is a valuable resource. I enjoyed playing around with the EducationPlannerBC website inputting several jobs and micro-credential options and looking at possible post-secondary programs available in one place. Such a good resource!

    Community-Based Organizations Left Out

    However, it's a pretty big "however," community-based trainers and employment services were left out of the plan except for additional funding for multi-barriered clients and international credential recognition. Private trainers were left out, and when I searched a few career paths, some of the training programs had a six to nine-month waiting time, i.e., apply for the program in January for starts in September. This is exactly why post-secondary organizations are challenged, especially in this dynamic and ever-changing labour market where community-based trainers have thrived. ASPECT members can pivot to market conditions using their connections to local employers, potential clients, economic development corporations, and local colleges and institutions to create training and opportunities quickly. 

    Here lies the opportunity for the evolution of the Future Ready Action Plan -- expand the plan to include that entire employment landscape to include community-based training and upskilling services. Extend a micro-credential framework to all training, and fund recognition of prior learning for employment. In the meantime, we will continue to work to find ways to bring post-secondary institutions under the employment-ready umbrella.

    One project that ASPECT is working on is a SPARC BC research project under the guidance of Dr. Alex Price. The research aims to bridge knowledge gaps and establish evidence-based connections between the British Columbia Social Services Sector, work-integrated learning institutions, and students to enhance capacity and sustainability, foster collaborations among stakeholders, and guide policy development and program improvements. My hope is that the results of this study will identify opportunities between community service providers and work integrated learning with funding to secure those relationships.

    The Future Ready Action Plan is good, but there are so ways for it to evolve to be much better. ASPECT will continue to work with the government to help them understand the value of the community-based sector. 

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO

  • April 28, 2023 1:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In my March 10, 2023, CEO Report, I shared my experience about my mistakes on the road toward Truth & Reconciliation and how I still made mistakes even when I tried to do everything right. My intention was to share my uncomfortable teachable moment with our sector. At the discussion, some Indigenous communities see smudging as sacred and shouldn't be taught to others outside the community. 


    Well, the learning related to this post continues. 


    Lorelei Lyons of 2 Metis Women, who we contracted to deliver the smudging workshop, contacted me. To her, I had humiliated her and undermined her business which, of course, was never something I had intended to do. In addition to the smudging workshop, Lorelei has also presented workshops at the ASPECT Conference to create dreamcatchers and medicine wheels. All of these workshops have been highly reviewed by conference participants. So again, I am apologizing to Lorelei and recommending her business to you. 


    At this point, a younger version of myself might run away from the conflict and pain I've caused, but Truth and Reconcilliation are too important to do that. In other words, I will continue to make mistakes, and likely, I will continue to share them with you in the knowledge that the "settlers" among us have a lot of work to do. 


    We are not alone in this work, however. The provincial government released their Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act Action Plan last year and will rely on us and our sector to help facilitate some of the difficult discussions ahead. ASPECT and other umbrella advocacy and community-serving agencies who share our mandate of removing colonialism from social services will join us to move forward. Running away isn't an option: this is too important for that.

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO

    Comments from previous ASPECT Conference evaluation:

    • Thank you for highlighting Indigenous teachings. Please do more of this.
    • Lorelei was knowledgeable, inclusive and a warm and inviting presenter.
    • This was an incredible experience, and I have already reached out to her to present it to my own organization.
    • Lorelei did an amazing job.
    • Immensely valuable session, highly emotional and informative - outstanding!

  • April 21, 2023 12:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This has been such a busy few weeks that I'm not even sure where to start except with gratitude:

    ASPECT Board of Directors

    Thank you to the volunteers who lead the work of ASPECT and have committed so much of their time and expertise on behalf of all members. This year we've accomplished so much from our research, strategic planning, and intensive work toward choosing a new board member. At the May 18 Annual General Meeting, we will be welcoming Coreen Jenner from the Okanagan Training and Development Council to the board. In recognition of National Volunteer Week, ASPECT is truly fortunate to have such committed individuals leading us.

    Canadian Coalition of Community-Based Employability Training

    Thank you to my colleagues from across Canada who met earlier this week in Toronto to spend a day of strategic planning, presenting at the First Work Ontario Amplify Conference on the importance of collaboration and community-based services, and met with the ESDC national program director and program about the YESS program. We talked about how the expertise of employment service providers can inform policy. Thanks to Akosuoa Alagaratnam of First Work for being such a generous host and making it possible for us to be there.

    From L-R: Mohja Alia, ISANS (Nova Scotia), Me, Akosuoa Alagaratnam First Work Ontario, Monika Feist, Success Skills Centre (Manitoba), Válerie Roy, AXTRA (Quebec). Missing is Debbie Green, Bredin Centre for Career Advancement (Alberta). 


    Thank you to Lubica Keighery and Sweety Rajpal for inviting ASPECT to be a part of their in-person Symposium in Vancouver yesterday and for generously inviting me to be a part of their board dinner. Thanks to Seanna Quressette, BCCDA President, for brainstorming professional development ideas with me and for agreeing to deliver a pre-ASPECT Conference workshop day on November 1st along with her colleague, Dr. Catherine Hajnal, on Mental Health Strategies for CDPs. Details are coming soon.

    Government Colleagues

    Thank you to all of you who are working with ASPECT on several initiatives. From the Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills, Hon. Selina Robinson, and her staff for arranging the Future Ready Skills announcement at yesterday's BCCDA Symposium to the others who have invited ASPECT to inform initiatives and announcements. If you are reading this, you all know who you are.

    ASPECT Members

    Thank you to our ASPECT members who share their time and expertise to inform our advocacy work. For those who attend our member meetings and for those who serve on subcommittees to review and edit reports and white papers, I could do none of this important work without you. 

    I know this is a long CEO report, but after an exhausting couple of weeks, all I feel is gratitude for the people who contribute to our work and helped me along the way.

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO

  • March 31, 2023 11:11 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I was having a conversation with a ministry colleague this week and we were discussing the idea of creating a community of practice for employment service providers for a specific population. It reminded me of a few communities to which I belong, and some of which I have not visited in a while. 

    Future Skills Centre
    I was an early adopter of this community but was frustrated by the inability to find the information I needed. It appears that they heard from the community and have made some improvements. If you haven't visited in a while, I encourage you to try it out again.

    Career Development Professional Centre
    This is the second version of this community of practice as the initial platform did not accommodate French as it should. I have to say that I'm really enjoying this one, which is even better because of the posts below.

    Another post that I thought you might appreciate is from Anna Gordon who has compiled a reading list for Career Development Professionals

    If you signed up for the previous Career Development Professional Centre's CoP, I encourage you to sign up for the new one


    National Newcomer Navigation Network (N4)
    The resources on this pan-Canadian site are amazing. I can see that there are already 140 contacts from BC with many being from the ranks of ASPECT's membership. This CoP is a bit clunky to navigate but the resources available are excellent.

    As the fiscal year comes to a close and the new one begins, now is a good time to focus on building your tool belt of ideas to help you in the work you do. If anyone else knows of good CoP sites, please send them to me. 

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO


     In last week's Aspectives, I mistakenly gave a new name to one of my ministry colleagues. My apologies to Ian Ross and his family for changing their family name to Powell. This is not the first time I've inadvertently renamed Ian, but I would like to apologize to him for doing it again. I will make every effort not to let it happen again.

    For those of you who don't know Ian Ross, he is the Executive Director of Program Policy & Development in the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.

  • March 24, 2023 11:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I have been hearing a lot from WorkBC contractors these past two weeks. Unfortunately for some, the guaranteed fee payments that were a part of the province's pandemic relief measures will end on March 31st. 

    Whether you are a WorkBC prime or subcontractor, you know firsthand that there are challenges to delivering these contracts. Compensating staff in line with the labour market and inflation pressures while adjusting programming to serve more multi-barriered clients who need longer interventions are just a few of the more significant ones. In our advocacy work, we ensure funders are aware of these types of challenges. 

    Yesterday, ASPECT President Val Meaney and I met with Social Development and Poverty Reduction Assistant Deputy Minister Karen Blackman and her leadership team Kerry Taylor, Val Beaman, and Ian Ross. We discussed the impact of the ending of the guaranteed fees and the concern from contractors about the financial modelling moving forward. It was a productive and informative discussion, and we were able to gain clarity on some items that can have a significant impact on contract delivery. Thank you to all of the WorkBC contractors who participated in our ad hoc survey, our WorkBC "quick adjustments" discussion last week, and those who emailed and spoke to me this week to help me understand the complexities of a very complex contract. Thanks also to Karen Blackman and her team for taking the time to meet with us to listen to the emerging issues and to help deepened our understanding of the ministry's concerns. Thanks also to Val Meaney for volunteering her time and expertise at these meetings.

    Yesterday's meeting was a perfect example of advocacy in action, working with our public service colleagues to find paths forward that support those who access employment services and supports in BC.

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO
  • March 17, 2023 10:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Today marks the 3rd anniversary of when the pandemic hit ASPECT. Three years ago today, we hosted our first virtual annual general meeting and had our first COVID-19 member discussion. By the following week, nearly all members had decided that their staff's health and safety came before their employment contract obligations and closed their doors.
    Next, we saw the biggest pivot of all time! Employment workshops and services that were almost wholly in-person switched to online. Computers were scavenged from workshop rooms, laptop loaning programs and policies were created, and ingenious ways of helping those without internet access received thumb drives or laptops loaded with content. The generousity of members in sharing resources was outstanding as plans for virtual services were quickly implemented and running within about three weeks. All this while others were trying to figure out how to log in remotely.
    Three years ago, my world of work seemed to have changed forever. During this time, ASPECT hosted 216 virtual meetings, webinars, and workshops, including two fully virtual conferences. It's been both a gift and a curse: a gift because we got to know our members and their needs better but a curse because it ratcheted up my workload substantially. However, we are doing interesting work that excites me to come to work every day. Our research projects, Competency of Virtual Services for CDPs and Refocusing the Urban Lens for Rural and Remote Employment Services, would not have been possible without the pandemic engagement from ASPECT members. Our member contributions to CERIC's business survey mobilization project, 10 Ways Employers Can Address Their Talent Needs by Partnering with Career Development Professionals, are outstanding in that it took the expertise of our provinces' CDPs to create a practical tool kit.
    Although exciting and dynamic, innovation can be exhausting, especially for those among us supporting clients with increasing barriers to employment. That's why when additional funding for a much-needed resource was announced this week, I was so excited. BC's Hub for Workplace Mental Health has excellent resources and contacts designed for Community Social Services providers. Run by the Canadian Mental Health Association BC, I think you'll agree that they have compiled a good resource building on their BounceBack® program.
    It has been a busy three years but also an incredibly rewarding period as we continue to adjust to the changes in the way we work and the new challenges, such as the ever-changing labour market, that lie ahead. Thank you to all of you who have been with me on this wild ride.

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO

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