Province announces new employment services in Windsor-Essex

Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton speaks to the crowd. (TJ Dhir/ CBC News - image credit)
Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton speaks to the crowd. (TJ Dhir/ CBC News - image credit)

The province of Ontario has a vision to support those on social assistance to find a meaningful job and Workforce Windsor-Essex can't wait to get started.

On Thursday, Minister of Labour, Immigration,Training and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton, was in Windsor to announce new employment services for five more regions, including Windsor-Essex. He said the services, spearheaded locally by Workforce Windsor-Essex, will help more people who can and are able to work find more meaningful jobs.

"We have an amazing opportunity here in Ontario to lift people up," McNaughton said. "When you think that today there's 380,000 jobs going unfilled, yet we have 800,000 people on social assistance. It's important that we make these changes. We're moving to an outcomes-based system."

Other areas included in the new system to help thousands of unemployed people are: London, Windsor-Sarnia, Kitchener-Waterloo-Barrie, Durham, and Ottawa.

He said the new system is tailored to meet the needs of the individual, whether it be people on social assistance, or those who have been involved in the criminal justice system. The program supports a number of things, including helping with resumes and assisting with job interviews, and giving clients the essentials they need to get started, like work boots, bus passes and uniforms.

"I think it's really nation leading," McNaughton said. "I mean there's nowhere else in Canada that's doing this. It really is about tailoring support to every individual. And I know this region is going to be well served by the providers."

McNaughton said that he inherited a system that failed the people.

"We had a system across Ontario that really left people behind," McNaughton said. "Only one per cent of people on social assistance ever left social assistance. That's an injustice."

McNaughton said they want to adapt and count the number of people leaving the system with a meaningful job.

Andrew Daher, commissioner of human and health services with the City of Windsor, is very excited about the new programming.

"As one of six municipalities in the province that delivers the Ontario Works Program, as well as the Employment Ontario Program, we have witnessed first-hand the profound impact our services have on our clients," Daher said.

Daher also shared two success stories from the program.

"Wayne, like many others, struggled to find work due to the lack of post secondary education and work experience," Daher said. "He worked with our employment team through weekly meetings and received guidance, support and the necessary skills to find a permanent job in which he excelled."

Daher said Wayne eventually was promoted to a management position, which gave him the confidence and financial independence to pursue his dream, a career in addiction counselling. With the support of his employment counselor, Wayne is now five months into the Addictions and Mental Health Worker Program at a local college.

TJ Dhir/ CBC News
TJ Dhir/ CBC News

New model set to launch next year

Kelsey Santarossa, the manager of community development projects for Workforce Windsor-Essex, said the new model is currently in the planning stage until the end of April. She said there will be a transition that sees all of the current service providers continue until the end of December. The full implementation of the new model will take place January 2024.

"This is a big announcement, just not for Windsor workers, but for those in Essex County, Chatham-Kent and Sarnia-Lambton, as we announce that the city of Windsor, in partnership with Workforce Windsor-Essex, have become the new [Service System Manager] for the transformation of Employment Ontario and Social Assistance Programs," Santarossa said.