Service reductions at the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation

On June 19, we wrote to the Ombudsperson for the Province of British Columbia to ask that recent service reductions at the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation be investigated further. The Office of the Ombudsperson investigates complaints about unfair treatment and actions by public authorities, including the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation.

YouthCO adds our voice to many other organizations, including the Positive Women's Network, and nine other social service agencies led by the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

 In our letter, we outlined our opposition to these changes, and asked the Ombudsperon to investigate the service reductions:

"The recent changes in service delivery have created new barriers that negatively impact our ability to access necessary services, and get information about our cases in a timely way. Our experiences applying for income assistance and disability benefits, and navigating the “welfare system” alongside our members have brought into focus the many barriers to access, such as lengthy and unaffordable hold times during phone calls. For those of us who have pay-as-you-go phones, these hold times are not merely inconvenient, they exclude us from accessing services."

YouthCO's office is located on the unceded traditional territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Tsleil-Waututh people. Our programs take place on unceded, ancestral, and traditional territories of many Indigenous nations across what is now called BC.

YouthCO believes that all youth have the right to accessible and affirming information about our health. We also know each of us has a unique relationship to our bodies, sex, sexuality, substance use, and harm reduction. For many of us, the words other people use for our bodies and their functions are not the words we use for ourselves. Throughout our website, YouthCO uses words for bodies and sex that we know will not reflect the full diversity of our communities. We have tried to, where possible, be as expansive with our language as we know how to while being as specific as possible. As youth leading the HIV movement, we too are learning about the best words for our experiences and do not do this perfectly. We invite any feedback about the language used on our website to help us move forward in the best ways for all youth in our communities!