Disability program loses federal funds 

Funding has been cut for pilot project designed to help people with disabilities get jobs in the Sea to Sky corridor.

Upward Bound, a project funded by Human Resources Development Canada, had been running for about one year with over 60 clients. Many of those clients have some form of a disability and needed help getting work and retaining work.

But as of today HRDC has cut the almost $79,000 in funding for the program.

"Over 60 clients at this moment in time do not know where to go, have now lost the support that they had," said Kathy Daniels, manager of employee programs at Sea to Sky Community Services.

The news came as a blow for the people who have been trying to make the program a success over the past year.

"It’s unfortunate that we were just getting it off the ground and it was cut," she said.

"We thought we were doing very well with the program."

Upward Bound helped many clients with mental health disabilities but there were some clients with brain injuries and others with developmental injuries.

Clients worked one-on-one with a counsellor to develop action plans and find work suited to them. Counsellors also tried to match up potential workers with employers by educating them on the benefits of hiring someone with a disability.

In August last year organizers were told that the funding was cut for any training or educational programs.

"Basically it ripped the heart out of the program. But we continued on," said Daniels.

She added that even without the program funding, Upward Bound exceeded all targets. Instead of dealing with a projected 43 clients, they saw 60. Instead of developing 23 action plans, they developed 39. Instead of having a target of five people employed for more than 12 weeks, they found work for 15.

Those people in jobs currently will no longer be monitored or supported by the program. And the remaining clients will no longer have help through Upward Bound.

There is a program called Training Innovations, which is available for any Canadian who is unemployed. Daniels said someone with a disability could go there for help but there are no special programs specifically designed for people with disabilities.

Sea to Sky Community Services is a broad organization providing a variety of services to people in the community.

With the cancellation of the Upward Bound program, Daniels says there is a missing part to the services offered in the community.

She said: "Sea to Sky Services sees it as a gap in services."

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