Ontario Introduces Streamlined Employment Supports

Published on June 10, 2021

Service improvements will help workers and employers access the supports they need

TORONTO – The Ontario government is making it easier for people to restart their careers and support their families through the creation of an integrated and seamless employment services system. The new system will combine employment programs from social assistance, such as Ontario Works Employment Assistance and Ontario Disability Support Program Employment Supports, into Employment Ontario. This modernized approach will ensure clients have continued access to the services they rely on while helping them succeed in their search for long-term and sustainable employment.

Details on the new approach were provided today by Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, who was joined by Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.

Jobseekers will be offered services that are specifically tailored to connect them with jobs in their communities, including job searching, job matching and job coaching support. A wide range of services and opportunities will also be available for employers to help them find workers and coordinate training.

“Workers, families and students have faced exceptional challenges as COVID-19 left many people without a job and limited opportunities to find work,” said Minister McNaughton. “The current model for employment services is complex, fragmented and has not been effectively helping people find and keep full-time jobs, making it difficult and time consuming for workers to navigate, particularly those on social assistance. One in four people who go on Ontario Works stay on it for more than five years and almost half of those who leave Ontario Works return – mostly within a year. Our government’s new one-stop shop for these services will help more people find good jobs in their communities.”

This new approach includes the establishment of service system managers, who will oversee the planning, design and delivery of employment services in each catchment areas. This initiative builds on the success of three prototype regions in Peel, Hamilton-Niagara and Muskoka-Kawarthas, which began in 2020.

“This improvement to employment services is an important step toward Ontario’s new vision for social assistance, which sets out plans to build a more responsive, person-centered social assistance system,” said Minister Smith. “As part of this work, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services will continue to work closely with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development to better support people to overcome barriers and move toward employment and independence by connecting them to the right integrated supports in their communities.”

The improved system will deliver integrated support to people seeking work, including those on Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program, starting in 2022 in nine additional areas.


Quick Facts

  • The integrated employment programs will offer workers and employers access to online self-serve options, in addition to phone and in-person service.
  • As of May 2021, 733,000 people were unemployed. The provincial unemployment rate was 9.3 per cent, up from the pre-COVID rate of 5.5 per cent in February 2020.
  • One in four people stay on Ontario Works for more than five years. Almost half the people who leave Ontario Works return, and four in five of those that return are back on it within a year.
  • In the first three prototype regions over 14,800 clients have already accessed services in these communities, and more than half are from Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program.
  • The remaining 12 catchment areas are being implemented in three phases, beginning with low complexity catchment areas in 2022. The second phase will cover medium complexity catchment areas. Finally, the system will be implemented in the most complicated catchment areas, in Toronto and Northern Ontario.

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