Ontario Expands Jobs Program That Outsources Management to Private Providers

The Ontario government is expanding its integrated employment services system to four more regions, saying the new management by private service providers is helping clients keep their jobs rather than just pushing them into the system.

The program, which merges employment services from various programs such as those offered by Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), was launched about a year and a half ago. in Peel, Hamilton-Niagara and Muskoka-Kawarthas.

According to the government, service providers in these regions have already helped 17,200 people find jobs, including 5,700 on social assistance.

Speaking to CTV News Toronto, Labor Minister Monte McNaughton said the new process will modernize Ontario’s employment network. Service providers will offer a variety of assistance to clients, including resume writing, interview skills, and financial assistance for items such as uniforms or transportation.

“In the past, only 1% of people on welfare came out. So clearly the system is failing them,” he said. “My mission is to help people on social assistance find opportunities and find meaningful careers where they can build their lives and those of their families. »

“So far it has been a resounding success.”

Thursday morning, McNaughton is expected to announce that the program will begin operating in four additional regions: York, Halton, Stratford-Bruce Peninsula and Kingston-Pembroke. The goal is to expand the network to 15 regions in the province by the end of 2023.

Each region is overseen by a system manager, who is responsible for overseeing employment service providers. Managers are chosen through a “complex process,” McNaughton said.

In Muskoka-Kawarthas, the manager is Fleming College, while in York Region its placement agency is WCG and in Halton, Fedcap, a global nonprofit, will oversee the program.

“They make sure the providers in this field deliver results and help uplift people who are on welfare,” McNaughton said. “And their pay is based on results.”

“In the past, the government never tracked the results of some of these providers who were supposed to help people.”

Few details were provided on how the government would track employment outcomes, with the minister saying only that previously funding was provided after a client had secured a job, the job lasted a day or a month.

However, it is unclear what outcomes would result from funding and what would happen if a provider did not meet this threshold.

The reward-based approach is intended as a response to a Auditor General’s Report 2018 which revealed that the ministry did not measure “whether recipients find stable employment to become self-sufficient,” the ministry said.

Officials say the government is currently selecting system managers in Durham, London, Windsor-Sarnia, Kitchener-Waterloo-Barrie and Ottawa as part of the next phase of expansion.

Ontario’s unemployment rate rose 0.4 percentage points in August to around 5.7%, according to Statistics Canada.

The changes come as the province battles criticism over funding for people in need of social assistance through OW and ODSP. The government recently increased ODSP payments by 5%, adding about $58 to the roughly $1,169 a month people with disabilities receive. Lawyers and opposition parties have called for a doubling of ODSP rates to take into account both inflation and the payment freeze since 2018.

OW recipients have not received increased payments and generally receive about $733 per month.

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