I thought I was applying for a job in an organization in my community. How is the Foundation for Rural Living involved with them and my application?
The Foundation for Rural Living (FRL) is a nonprofit charitable organization based in Guelph. FRLâ€™s mission is to advance the rural nonprofit and voluntary sector to build sustainable rural capacity that enhances the quality of life of rural citizens through the growth and development of community investment in the form of philanthropy, citizenship and collaboration.
The Rural Development Officer (RDO) Program is a collaborative initiative that brings FRL together with rural non-profit and voluntary organizations and unemployed individuals. The organization you applied to is one of those organizations (we call them our â€śCommunity Partnersâ€ť).
When you first called me for an interview, you indicated I had to meet eligibility requirements for something called a â€śJCPâ€ť. Can you explain what that is again and why I need to know about it?
The Foundation for Rural Livingâ€™s Rural Development Officer Program is currently funded through the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (TCU) Job Creation Partnership Program â€“ JCP. The Program, as described on the Ministryâ€™s website.
TCU has established criteria for individuals and will ultimately approve whether you will be able to join us as an RDO. As the site indicates you must fit into one of these two categories:
- Have established a claim for Employment Insurance benefits or their Employment Insurance benefit period ended within the past three years or
- Have established a claim for Employment Insurance maternity or parental benefits and were paid benefits within the past five years, and are re-entering the labour force after having left to care for newborn or newly adopted children
FRL encourages individuals to speak with an Employment Counsellor and/or someone at TCU directly if they have any questions about their eligibility or the JCP Program in general.
If I am asked to join this program and accept, does it have any impact on other government programs I may be considering now or in the future?
This is an important question and FRL suggests you speak directly with your Employment Counselor and the Ministry. Programs like Second Careers are funded by TCU as well and they assess whether individuals would benefit from accessing more than one program, or accessing the JCP Program more than once over a period of time.
How much does this job pay?
Two important things to be clarified:
- This is not considered to be a â€śjobâ€ť but is rather a â€śwork placementâ€ť since it a government-funded employment program
- The â€śpayâ€ť involved is $423/week (before deductions) and is not insurable earnings but rather employment benefits paid through government funding
How does this JCP Program impact my EI claim or future EI eligibility?
There are many different factors involved depending on your specific situation. The following is true for everyone:
- JCP funds are NOT insurable earnings. (You will not receive a T4 from FRL or the organization. You cannot consider them to build toward a future EI claim)
If you are currently collecting EI:
- Your claim keeps â€śrunningâ€ť as you are in the Program. For example, if you are in the Program for 32 weeks and you had 36 weeks of EI available, you would only have 4 remaining weeks after the end of the Project if you hadnâ€™t found permanent employment
- If you are already receiving the maximum amount of EI benefits, you may see a slight decrease in the amount of funds coming to you. This is caused by taxes being taken off at a different rate through the JCP program rather than the EI program.
- If your basic EI amount is less than $423/week, you will be getting the base amount from your regular EI benefit and a â€śtop upâ€ť amount through the JCP Program.
- If your EI claim runs out during the course of your JCP Placement, you will still receive $423/week it will switch so that all is coming from the JCP Program instead of a base amount from regular EI benefits.
Your information indicates this is a maximum 52-week position. If I am successful and become an RDO, does that mean I start counting 52 weeks from the day I begin with the organization?
No. The length of FRLâ€™s Rural Development Officer Program is bound by our contract with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. Positions will be in place for a maximum of 52 weeks with a firm end date that coincides with the end of FRLâ€™s Project. No extensions are available regardless of when an individual begins their placement.
What happens if I get a job part-way through my placement? Doesnâ€™t that mean the organization is going to be upset? How will the work get done that I had started?
Community Partner organizations are aware when they sign up that individuals are still actively seeking permanent employment. In fact, they and FRL will be supporting your search efforts. When you are successful and transition into a more permanent job elsewhere, FRL is happy to re-fill the position if time remaining in the Program makes this feasible and is what the organization wishes.
The JCP Program doesnâ€™t really pay very well: would it be okay if I work from home part of the time to assist with this situation?
The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, and FRL anticipates that individuals are in the work place and NOT working from a home office. The JCP Program is designed to get people back out into the workplace and have opportunity for hands-on training. These things would not be accomplished if the individual is working alone at home. While extreme circumstances (ie â€śsnow daysâ€ť) may occur from time to time, FRL must be aware of arrangements made in this regard.
Is it ok if I have a part-time job to help supplement my income?
Yes, this is allowed but the rules/outcome is dependent on your situation:
- If your regular EI benefits ran out before you entered this Program (a â€śreach backâ€ť), then you are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week outside the JCP Placement, as long as it does not impact your ability to fulfill the 35 hours/week to fulfill your role within the Project.
- If you are still receiving regular EI benefits, then any earnings will need to be reported and could result in a deduction of your employment benefit payments
What kind of hours will I be working in this placement?
The Placements are based on a 35 hour work week. There is flexibility to allow for the RDO to be part of evening meetings/weekend events, etc. However, it is important that the RDO is available for FRL planned activities which will be in conventional work times. It is also important that some portion of the work time be with others in the organization to ensure you are getting mentorship and networking opportunities. As there is no way to compensate for overtime, it is not generally acceptable for RDOs to be working more than 35 hours per week. IF circumstances lead to a longer work week (leading up to and working at an event for example), it is critical that a mutually agreeable plan be arranged in advance to allow for time off in lieu.
Your Job Description allots 10% of the time to a variety of activities. Does that happen at a specific time every day? What does that look like?
The 10% allotment of time encompasses a number of different things and will look different from day to day and week to week. It should be seen as an average over time. Some specific items can be accounted for over the long term:
- webinar sessions which will be scheduled in advance
- Monthly Â˝ hour coaching and mentoring phone calls
- In person Orientation and Summer Learning Program (about 2 days each
- Monthly completion of work plan, Report and Time Sheet
- Active job searching (which could include looking for jobs online or sending our resumes or attending job interviews)
Community Partners and RDOs are encouraged to work together to ensure the balance is maintained overall. RDOs should not be neglecting the work of the organization in attending to these tasks, but the individual should also feel supported to be able to meet FRL expectations AND have time to actively job search within the time allotment as well.
Can you tell me more about your Learning Centre Programming? What is it that I will be doing?
You and the organization you are placed with (Community Partner organization) will have the opportunity to take part in FRLâ€™s Rural Social Enterprise Programming. While the details are still being ironed out, it will likely mean attending up to two Â˝ day workshops (held on one day) in person plus some component(s) that will be delivered online through webinars.
FRL strives to develop core capacity building competencies (strategic thinking & planning; program planning & evaluation; communications & public relations, resource and fund development, financial planning & management; constituency building & partnership development). Social Enterprise is a fairly new concept that nonprofit organizations are learning about and we hope to introduce the topic to our RDOs as well.
For those Community Partners and RDOs who have an idea for a Social Enterprise and are ready to take it to the next level, our Social Enterprise trainers will be available for consultation.
You also mentioned something about â€śadditional supportsâ€ť, what does that mean?
FRL staff are here to support you both in your placement as an RDO with our Community Partner organization, but also with your ongoing job search. The Project Manager and Project Coordinator both have Human Resource backgrounds and are well able to assist with your job search, resume and cover letter writing, interview preparation etc.
The Program is also designed with time set aside each month for a Â˝ hour phone â€ścoaching and mentoringâ€ť session. At this time, you can talk with the Project Manager about any area in which you might need assistance â€“whether itâ€™s support in approaching a challenge in your placement; further advice on your job search activities; questions you might have about a topic in the Learning Program â€“ whatever is of value to you.
All FRL staff are approachable by phone or email and encourage you to stay connected and seek our support at any time during your time in the Program.
You guys use a lot of acronyms! Can you give the list to me again?
FRL â€“ Foundation for Rural Living (thatâ€™s us!)
RDO â€“ Rural Development Officer (if you are successful in your interview, that will be you!) â€“ FRLâ€™s name for the positions we create
TCU â€“ Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, the Ontario government Ministry currently funding FRLâ€™s RDO Program
JCP â€“ Job Creation Partnership Program â€“ The specific Program of TCU which funds the RDO placement
CP â€“ Community Partner organizations. The groups out in communities that have been chosen to host RDOs.