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Lack of transportation hinders workers

By Allison Cross When Carol Madsen got a call asking for 70 workers to help clean up the massive oil…

By Allison Cross , in City , on October 25, 2007

By Allison Cross

When Carol Madsen got a call asking for 70 workers to help clean up the massive oil spill in Burnaby in July, she knew there was no question of finding clients who needed the work.

But Madsen, the program manager at Pathways Information Centre on the corner of Hastings and Main Streets in Vancouver, knew she didn’t have any way of getting those workers out to Burnaby.

Without a ride, the employers and potential employees were out of luck.

“We couldn’t provide them with bus tickets,” she said. “Many of the people we work with here have no money at all.”
Pathways directs its clients to resources or agencies in the Downtown Eastside (DTES), whether those clients are looking for work, drug treatment or a place to stay.

But the centre doesn’t have access to funds that would allow them to purchase auxiliary items – like bus tickets or bagged lunches.

Transportation is certainly not the only concern when it comes to finding and keeping employment. Others struggle with mental illness or addiction, or both.

“These are people are living on income assistance and it can be very, very small,” Madsen said. “These people spend their days standing in line at the food lineups. When they get a job, they go to work without food in their bellies, all day. And they don’t have any food to come home to.”

She said many of the people they work with are homeless and have nowhere to shower before work, let alone the transportation to get there.

In an effort to secure their own funds for items like bus tickets, Pathways will hold a fundraising dance in February 2008. Their bi-annual employment fair will take place on Nov. 25. For more information, call 604-682-7353.

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