It’s a provincial program that has really taken off, assisting thousands of people across the province. The Single Parent Employment Initiative (SPEI) offers financial support to single parents who decide to advance their education. Right here in our city, a mother of three is enrolled at the College of New Caledonia (CNC), gaining the skills needed to help her better support her family.
Before SPEI, Allison Greer’s future was uncertain. “When I became a single parent, my daughters [fraternal twins] were 2 and my son was 4. So I couldn’t work because I knew all my money would go towards childcare. I applied for social assistance and that’s what I have been living on since then.”
Then, her father told her about the provincial program. Greer was able to enroll in the Administrative Assistance program at CNC in August because of it. “They cover all of my tuition and they help me with my childcare as well. Subsidy pays a portion, and then the SPEI program pays for the rest of it. They cover all my books and my tuition, it’s been great!”
The MLA for Prince George-Valemount, Shirley Bond, was one of the three Ministers to launch SPEI in 2015. “When we started the program we thought there would be several hundred people that would take up the program…but as of today, over 4000 single parents in BC are engaged, and over 700 of them have jobs because of the training and because of the program. Here in the North, we have strong numbers as well. Over 180 clients here in the North, 40 of those have jobs. We are going to see that number climb.”
Without the extra support, Greer says she would be thousands of dollars in debt. She continues to push herself, and is excelling in all of her classes. Being a single parent still has plenty of challenges, but the provincial assistance has helped lighten the load. “I feel like I have have a future. I feel like I can be gainfully employed and support my kids all on my own.”