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Ontario expands position of personal corporations in welfare jobs packages

Ontario Labor Minister Monte McNaughton takes to the rostrum throughout a information convention in Toronto on April 28, 2021. Mr. McNaughton says his critics’ fears in regards to the new incentive system are unfounded.Chris Younger/The Canadian Press

Ontario goes forward with adjustments handy extra oversight of job coaching and placement for folks on social help to for-profit corporations, saying pilot tasks in a handful of areas have helped hundreds extra welfare recipients land paid work.

This transformation, already beneath method for nearly two years, will see Ontario divided into 15 areas. In every, oversight of the businesses that assist folks discover jobs – whether or not they’re on social help or not – will likely be put out to tender. The profitable bidders will be municipalities, non-profit businesses, instructional establishments or for-profit companies.

The Progressive Conservative authorities’s new system additionally consists of funding incentives to reward these overseers for putting extra social-assistance recipients into jobs. Opposition critics and anti-poverty advocates warn the plan will see the shunting of weak folks into low-wage, dead-end jobs by firms whose income depend upon it.

On Thursday, Ontario Labor Minister Monte McNaughton will likely be in Peterborough, Ont., to unveil the newest growth of his employment-services plans to 4 extra areas of the province, citing the expertise to this point of pilot tasks in Peel Area, Hamilton-Niagara and Muskoka-Kawarthas as a hit.

In an interview, Mr. McNaughton stated 5,700 folks on social help now have jobs in simply these areas of the province, the place the brand new program launched in January, 2021. His ministry couldn’t present exact figures on how massive a rise this represents.

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However Mr. McNaughton stated every month beneath the previous system throughout the province, simply 1 per cent of individuals on Ontario Works, one of many province’s two social-assistance packages, sometimes discovered jobs. And near half sometimes quickly misplaced them. About 210,000 folks depend on OW throughout the province, in line with authorities figures, which means simply 2,100 have been discovering jobs in any given month.

The minister says his critics’ fears in regards to the new incentive system are unfounded. He stated the brand new guidelines encourage service suppliers to prioritize these most in want and that more cash will likely be spent to assist folks with coaching, counseling and different helps. Participation in this system is voluntary, he stated.

“That is about placing these on social help first and serving to them get the coaching for in-demand, significant jobs,” Mr. McNaughton stated, noting the province’s large labor scarcity. “Clearly the system was failing folks on social help for many years.”

The 4 new areas changing to the brand new system are: York Area, Halton Area, Stratford-Bruce Peninsula and Kingston-Pembroke. Two of them will likely be overseen by for-profit firms.

The Australian-owned for-profit agency WCG, which additionally runs the brand new system in Peel, is increasing to neighboring York Area. Providers in Kingston-Pembroke will likely be overseen by Serco Canada, a division of a giant international authorities outsourcing firm concerned in comparable packages in different international locations.

In Halton Area, the co-ordinator will likely be Fedcap Canada, the Canadian wing of a US-based not-for-profit international community that runs job coaching and “advantages screening” providers for governments within the US and Britain, and is the service supplier in neighboring Hamilton-Niagara. The municipality of Bruce County will present the service in Stratford-Bruce Peninsula.

The collection of new system managers is now beneath method in one other six areas, as this system is phased in.

The adjustments are rolling out amid debate over social-assistance charges and the affect of inflation on the province’s poorest, particularly those that are disabled, who depend on the Ontario Incapacity Help Program. The federal government not too long ago hiked charges by 5 per cent, or about $60 on the everyday $1,200 month-to-month cheque. The NDP has referred to as for a doubling of charges. Checks for these on Ontario Works stay unchanged, at as little as $733 a month.

Hamilton Mountain NDP MPP Monique Taylor stated the federal government is incorrect to denationalise public providers. She stated the Metropolis of Hamilton shouldn’t have misplaced management of its system to a decrease bidder.

Devorah Kobluk, senior coverage analyst with Ontario’s Earnings Safety Advocacy Centre, stated in 2008 the then-Liberal authorities tried the same pilot program, additionally run by WCG, that made little distinction in outcomes. She stated the present authorities hasn’t produced sufficient proof to indicate its adjustments are working.

“We do not know what sort of jobs these guys are positioned in,” Ms. Kobluk stated. “We all know from what occurred in the same mannequin in Australia and the UK that individuals usually get positioned in precarious contract jobs and so they find yourself biking again to social help.”


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