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Recycling depot jobs program extended a year

Richard Niesman sorts bottles at the recycling depot Monday afternoon. The program that employs him and 28 others will end in December.  - Colleen Flanagan/The News
Richard Niesman sorts bottles at the recycling depot Monday afternoon. The program that employs him and 28 others will end in December.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/The News

The 29 developmentally disabled workers will stay on the job at the Ridge Meadows Recycling Depot after restoration of the supported work program.

Community Living B.C. agreed to restore the $270,000 for the program for another year, MLA Marc Dalton said Monday.

On top of that, Social Development Minister Harry Bloy has told Community Living to call the families affected and apologize.

Dalton said Community Living is a Crown corporation and acts independently, “but it was handled poorly.

“There was a real problem if it was going to be cancelled         Oct. 1.”

Community Living B.C. recently told the recycling society it wasn’t renewing its contract and that the part-time jobs would end Sept. 30.

But the resulting furore led to the reversal, with CLBC renewing the contract following a meeting with the recycling society Monday. That meeting also addressed Community Living’s concerns about employment standards.

Dalton said he was encouraged after hearing last week that Community Living gave a three-month extension, allowing the program to continue to Dec. 30.

While the contract is renewed every year, “I would anticipate this would be OK for a while to come.

“I really hope that CLBC can learn something from this, because this is a provincial thing. We need to make sure there’s better communication. We need that from CLBC.”

He added that’s been an ongoing concern he has with families that are funded by Community Living.

Government has increased Community Living funding annually since its inception in 2005, but Community Living is reallocating its funds on a provincial basis, Dalton added. However, the supported work program is a “really good program. It’s a proven success. It’s been very beneficial.”

Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin was glad to hear of the deal and credited the reversal to a collective effort. Council led the way last week with a hard-hitting letter to Social Development Minister Harry Bloy, but that likely hasn’t been sent yet.

“It’s another example of the community rallying together. The collective, strong voice obviously got their attention. They listened.”

Community Living B.C. and the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society issued a joint statement Tuesday saying they have “mutually identified” some issues that need to be resolved, adding “that there are a number of employment and support options available in Maple Ridge …

“Our mutual goal is to ensure that individuals are valued as employees, services are meaningful and that compliance with Employment Standards is maintained,” the statement said.

“We look forward to continuing to work together to provide more opportunities for inclusive employment in the Maple Ridge community.”

That could mean the program could change, such as the practice of employees waiting, unpaid, because of transportation issues, for their shift to start. All employees make the $8.75 an hour minimum wage for their shifts.

The number of people in the program could also decrease if jobs are found elsewhere.

“We’re working together with them to find options for people, but we believe in our program,” added executive-director Kim Day. It’s now clear to Community Living that Maple Ridge and the recycling society “really support the model that we have.”

Community Living also reversed its decision to chop $61,000 in yearly funding to Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Community Services.

That pays for a support coordinator who helps 28 developmentally disabled people in volunteer jobs with groups such as the Salvation Army, Friends in Need Food Bank or Adopt-A-Block. The contract for that has been extended a year.

“The families have all been told,” said Kristy Rogge, director of programs and services.

“People are so happy and so excited.”

Community services will have a later meeting with Community Living B.C.

 

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