The Employment Program of British Columbia (EPBC) is available to all Unemployed British Columbians who are seeking Employment and are Legally Eligible to work in British Columbia. The Program offers a range of services that support job seekers to find and maintain Employment and to improve Employment Readiness. Eligibility for specific services is dependent on several factors.
Any BC job seeker or employer can access the Self-Serve Resource Area of WorkBC Centres. There are no Program eligibility criteria or formal screening requirements for access to the Resource Area.
In order to access any other EPBC services, both Non-Case Managed and Case Managed Clients, must meet Basic Eligibility for the Program (be Unemployed and Legally Eligible to work in BC) and, in most cases, be assessed as requiring the service to successfully achieve Labour Market or Community Attachment. Some services have additional eligibility criteria.
The Program definition for Unemployed is provided below along with the requirements for being Legally Eligible to work in BC. In addition, eligibility information is provided for the following populations:
- Individuals with 900 Social Insurance Numbers (SINs)
- Part-time Workers
- Full-time Students
- Active EI Claimants receiving Special Employment Insurance Benefits
- Specialized Populations
- Clients with Restrictions or Considerations regarding where they can access Services
- Individuals who are incarcerated
In order to meet Basic Eligibility for the Program, Clients must meet the Program definition of Unemployed, and provide a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to demonstrate that they are Legally Eligible to work in British Columbia.
“Unemployed” means an individual who is not a full-time student as defined by the Program, and who:
- Is not working
- Is working an average of less than twenty (20) hours per week and
- Is actively seeking full-time employment
- Is unable to work full-time because of a disability and is seeking to work more hours
- Is in receipt of a notice of imminent layoff
- Must leave his or her current occupation due to a medical reason
- Is at significant risk of losing his or her employment because of a disability
Legally Eligible to Work in British Columbia
Specific legislation governs legal requirements related to working in British Columbia. The three specific requirements are:
- A Social Insurance Number (SIN). The SIN is a nine-digit number issued by the Government of Canada. It is required to work in Canada or to receive federally funded government services or benefits. Note: Individuals with SINs that begin with the number “9” may be eligible for work in Canada only under certain circumstances.
- Youth under the age of 16 are legally required to participate in the public or private school system and do not meet the Program definition of Unemployed. Students under the age of 16 who meet conditions under the Employment Standards Act are welcome to access EPBC services to seek part-time employment while attending school, but are not eligible for other EPBC services.
- Children under the age of 15 years cannot legally work without written consent from the employee’s parent or guardian.
Individuals with 900 series Social Insurance Numbers (SINs)
A regular SIN card, starting with a number between 1 and 8, is only issued to Canadian citizens or permanent residents. A SIN beginning with the number “9” indicates that the SIN holder is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and does not have the right to work in Canada without special permission.
Individuals who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents (i.e. with 900 series SINs) may access ESC Self-Serve Resources but are not eligible for EPBC services unless they have been determined to be:
- Convention Refugees, or Protected Persons by the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) who are awaiting their official documents (i.e. Certification, regular SIN, permanent resident status).
- Adult Refugee Claimants (who are yet to be approved as a refugee in Canada).
- An individual granted permission to live and/or work in Canada by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, who has a Work Permit (IMM 1442) that does not specify an employer or other restriction that limits their ability to seek and accept work in Canada.
Individuals who are working an average of less than 20 hours per week meet the Program definition of Unemployed.
Full-time secondary or post-secondary students are considered outside the labour force and therefore are not considered Unemployed. Students can access the Resource Area of EPBC Self-Serve Services.
A full-time student, for the purposes of the Program, is defined as a person who, at the time of requesting EPBC services, is or was registered full-time at an educational institution during the present or last academic year. Individuals, who have completed a school term, but intend to return to school in the upcoming academic year and have not made the transition from school to work, are also considered students.
The Program definition of Youth includes individuals aged 16 to 30 who are not students. As explained above, Youth under the age of 16 do not meet the legal school leaving age in BC. Youth can access services when their participation is consistent with federal and provincial laws and the EPBC Service Provider has confirmed that the Youth is Legally Eligible to work in British Columbia.
Active EI Claimants receiving Special Employment Insurance Benefits
Individuals who are receiving temporary EI Special Benefits for a specific purpose (maternity, parental, sickness) are not considered Unemployed for the purposes of the Program. These Clients are normally required to change their EI claim to a Regular Claim in order to access EPBC services.
For the purposes of the Program, Specialized Populations have been identified as those who may require alternative service delivery arrangements to access employment services, in order to meet their unique needs and increase the likelihood of outcomes being achieved. This includes: Aboriginal Peoples, Francophone persons, Immigrants, Persons with Disabilities, Rural and Remote populations, Multi-Barriered Clients, Survivors of Violence and/or Abuse, and Youth.
An individual may be associated with a Specialized Population and have no barriers to their ability to get work, and simply need job search or other supports in order to gain employment. For other individuals, this is not the case, and they may require specialized assessments and/or services designed specifically to meet the needs of their Specialized Population.
Clients with Restrictions or Considerations regarding where they can access Services
Some Clients may have restrictions or safety-related considerations regarding where they can access services. These may include court ordered restrictions related to geographic areas they must avoid (e.g. “Red Zone” areas) or restrictions for safety reasons for themselves or others (e.g. to protect personal safety, not being permitted to be near children, situations where restraining orders are in place).
Consideration and sensitivity are required when arranging for access to services for Clients who may have unique needs related to where they are able to comfortably, safely and legally access services. In such situations, EPBC Service Providers are expected to make services available to Clients who need them through alternative means.
Individuals who are Incarcerated
Where an EPBC Service Provider has a correctional facility in their Catchment Area, they may provide Outreach Services to incarcerated individuals who are near release and require employment services to obtain Employment as quickly as possible upon their availability for work.