Research to break barriers to employment

People struggling with mental-health and substance-use challenges will be supported through a new research project to test an integrated set of employment supports for people with multiple and long-term barriers to employment.

The Province is providing $1.5 million through WorkBC’s Community and Employer Partnerships (CEP) to the Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division (CMHA BC) for a two-year research and innovation project that is expected to be complete in January 2022.

The project is designed to increase access to meaningful volunteering, training and employment for people who receive the Persons with Persistent Multiple Barriers (PPMB) category of income assistance. PPMB recipients have faced a range of adverse experiences, including homelessness or domestic violence, and often have chronic health conditions, such as mental illness or addiction, that make finding and sustaining employment challenging.

“Provincial supports, such as income assistance and employment programs, are meant to help some of the most vulnerable people in B.C.,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Projects like this will ensure that our programs are actually reaching the people who need them most, when they need them most, and create sustainable employment by meeting people where they are in their lives.”

The project will create a set of wraparound services for people on PPMB assistance, based on person-centred outcomes that acknowledge the individual experiences and promote personal choice and recovery. The project will assess the success of each of the services, with a focus on physical and mental-health outcomes and how successful people are in finding and maintaining volunteering, training and employment. The CMHA BC will provide quarterly reports to the Province and release a final report that will help develop future B.C. government programs and services. 

“A sense of purpose and the chance to contribute can make a huge difference to someone on their pathway to healing and hope,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “This project is creating new ways for people with multiple barriers, including mental-health and substance-use challenges, to fully participate in their communities and find new ways forward.”

“This unique project will combine proven employment supports, trauma-informed and culturally safe practices, and primary care to pave a path forward toward hope for people living with significant mental-health and substance-use problems,” said Jonny Morris, chief executive officer, CMHA BC. “Meaningful, paid work is a key driver of recovery, and we are excited to work with people with lived experience to design and offer the right services at the right time to help workers with mental illness become valued members of the workforce.”

Quick Facts:

  • WorkBC’s CEP program aims to increase employment opportunities for unemployed British Columbians through partnerships, research and innovative job-creation projects.
  • Over $19 million will be invested in CEP projects around B.C. in 2019-20.

Learn More:

Learn how CEPs are helping local communities:

Find out more about the Canadian Mental Health Association:  

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