Most economic activity occurs along a spectrum that includes everything from accessing basic necessities and volunteering, to gaining supported part-time or formal full-time employment.

Previous research suggests that individuals gain economic, social and health benefits as they engage at various places along the spectrum. In the Downtown Eastside, creative income generation opportunities, social entrepreneurship, and innovative strategies have been developed to engage people at different places along the spectrum. However, policies and services can be disjointed and sometimes do not support opportunities to engage, or movement along, this spectrum.

The Assessing Economic Transitions Study (ASSETS) is trying to address barriers to employment and economic security in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. The study will assess examples of services that involve economic activity and use the findings from this study to support program and policy change that will positively impact the community.

We want to hear about the experiences of people accessing economic opportunities in and around the Downtown Eastside such as social enterprise, peer employment, informal work, and formal employment; as well as experiences with employment service providers and skills training programs, to better understand the impacts of these activities on people’s health and well-being.


Adults who live in the greater Vancouver area and are currently engaged in training, volunteering, and/or money making activities that are supported by a local agency, organization, initiative or service.

Participation will be kept completely confidential (including from employers) and participants may withdraw from the study at any point without penalty.

1. How long is the study?

Around 3 years, with the potential for longer.

2. What would being in the study involve?

Meeting with researches every 3 months to participate in a 45-90 min interview. You will be paid an honorarium for each research visit you attend.

3. Can I sign up if I am self-employed?

Yes. If you are an artist, vendor or someone who supports themselves in another way we want to hear from you.

4. Can I sign up if I work many jobs between different agencies?

Yes. This study is designed to follow you as you move through different kinds of employment opportunities, so it does not require you to be in one job or remain in the same job during the study.

5. Who should I talk to if I am not sure if I can/want to sign up?

Feel free to call us to get more information about the study and what would be involved in participating. We also encourage you to talk it over with your employer who should be able to provide you with a nomination to enroll.

6. How can I refer a client who might be interested in participating?

Service providers can refer clients to the study in two ways. 1) using the online nomination system or 2) or using a paper nomination that the participant will bring to us. Contact us at [email protected] and we will deliver paper nominations to you.

7. Who is doing the study?

Researchers at UBC and the BC Centre on Substance Use. Funding for the study comes from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

8. Why should I care?

This study aims to help develop useful programing like peer programs, community organizations, and local employers, and local government initiatives, advocate for more funding, enhance their programs and potentially influence policy. We want to address barriers to employment and economic security, and we need your help to do it!


Canadian Institutes of Health Research


For more information contact us at:


[email protected]

If you would like paper nominations for your organization please emails us at [email protected]

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Online Addiction Medicine Diploma: [email protected].