Employment services to the Lower Similkameen have been devastated by the introduction of the province’s new employment services model, which has replaced WorkZone in Kerermeos.
Robert Bryce, regional manager for the YMCA and current prime contractor for employment services to the Penticton catchment area, spoke to the regional district board last week to respond to a letter written by Keremeos Director Manfred Bauer regarding the issue.
Similkameen politicians feel that there has been no public input regarding the significant changes to service in the valley, and have been unable to access those accountable.
The Balkanization of the Lower Similkameen – in terms of employment services at least – apparently came about when a Ministry for Social Development bureaucrat placed Cawston in the Osoyoos catchment area.
The outright foolishness of this decision has frustrated Similkameen politicians, who understand the employment landscape of the valley. Up until the board meeting, no one knew who was accountable for the move.
Bryce also noted that, in the YMCA bid for the contract, they had never proposed a storefront location for Keremeos – with the province accepting that bid, without question, apparently.
It appears to us that the present program in the Lower Similkameen was assembled with a total lack of knowledge and a complete disregard for the needs of the area. Mr. Bryce and the province need to re-examine this aspect of the program immediately – preferably with some local input. We would be interested in seeing what the profit margins are going to be for the YMCA for their program in the Similkameen under the current setup.
The three Lower Similkameen directors were united in their disatisfaction with the way this process took place. Based on what Bryce told the board last Thursday, they had every right to be.
Keremeos and the Lower Similkameen have been treated as an afterthought – sacrificial pawns – by both the province and the contractor as far as the reasonable delivery of employment services go.