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BC jobs firm a bust in Ontario: independent review

New numbers coming out of Ontario might cause the B.C. government to take a closer look at how well its own jobs program is performing.

The Ontario government tried a private job placement service offered by a B.C. company, but an independent review found it worked no better than the ministry's own programs and did not save the government money.

“There were no incremental reductions in [Income Assistance] that could be attributed to JobsNow,” says the report on the Ontario pilot program produced by Ottawa management consulting firm Goss Gilroy Inc. and dated October 10, 2008. “JobsNow was not more effective than regular Ontario Works programming.”

The Ontario program was run by WCG International Consultants Ltd., a company with a head office in downtown Victoria. B.C. spends about $30 million a year on WCG programs, but has done little to evaluate whether taxpayers get value for their money.

The report authors relied on WCG's data to find out how the company did. Nearly seven out of 10 did not find work while with JobsNow. And the ones who found jobs did not necessarily stay in them. As the report put it, “Over the entire length of the pilot, 13 [percent] of all participants (1,325) had found employment and remained in the program for a full 18 months.”

WCG, which was sold last year to Arizona based Providence Service Corporation, has run employment programs in B.C. since 1995, including JobWave and Triumph.

The WCG website says that in B.C. some 80 percent of participants retain a full-time, unsubsidized job for at least 12 months. The Tyee sought WCG's explanation for why the results were seven times worse in Ontario than the success they claim for their programs on their website.

WCG's media contact, Robin Adair, did not return calls by press time.

A more in-depth feature appears in today’s Tyee.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee legislative bureau chief in Victoria.

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