Column: Opportunities for single parents

Earning a living is an essential part of our lives, no matter who we are.

Earning a living is an essential part of our lives, no matter who we are. Single parents on income assistance searching for employment often face obstacles most of us don’t experience.

Our government recognizes how challenging it can be as a single parent, especially when transitioning into the workforce. Recently, we announced a significant change to the income and disability assistance program starting on Sept. 1 allowing single parents to stay on assistance for up to 12 months while they train for their new job while having access to a range of supports including: Tuition and education costs for approved training programs that last up to 12 months for in-demand jobs, transportation costs to and from school and full child-care costs during training.

Upon completion of training, single parents who are eligible for a child-care subsidy will continue to have their full child-care costs covered for one year after they leave school and enter the workforce. They will retain their health supplement coverage for a year after they leave income assistance. This includes dental, optical and premium-free Ministry of Health Medical Services Plan and Pharmacare programs.

Currently, there are 16,000 single parent families with 26,000 children on income and disability assistance in B.C. Single parent families represent 44 per cent of those who receive income assistance and on average, 90 per cent of single parents on income and disability assistance are female. Making the connections to provide jobs for single parents and build upon our inclusive, accessible workforce in B.C. requires teamwork and strong partnerships.

I am grateful B.C. recognizes the importance of meaningful employment for people with disabilities. Our government is committed to working with employers to recruit, retain and promote jobs for individuals with disabilities and support the families of single parents on income assistance who want to pursue employment and move towards economic independence.

Coralee Oakes is the MLA for Cariboo North and is the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.