Nova Scotia

Halifax businesses encouraged to hire marginalized workers

Businesses in Halifax are being encouraged to offer opportunities to marginalized workers as a means of supporting the communities in which they operate.

Social enterprise focuses on investing in people and not being driven solely by profit

Thomas Pottie would like to see more businesses offer employment opportunities to recent inmates like himself. (CBC)

Businesses in Halifax are being encouraged to offer opportunities to marginalized workers as a means of supporting the communities in which they operate.

On Saturday in Halifax, a panel of experts discussed how social enterprise could be adopted as a philosophy by more businesses. Social enterprise is a philosophy that focuses on investing in people and not being driven solely by considerations of profit.

The panel was organized by the 7th Step Society of Canada, a group that helps former inmates readjust to society.

"When you get released from jail, they just let you go," said Thomas Pottie, 60, of Halifax. "They just give you a bus ticket."

Pottie said he was in and out of prisons between the ages of 13 and 53. He also battled a variety of addictions.

Now clean, out of prison and off social assistance, Pottie has a part-time job and is helping to give back to society. He encouraged more businesses to offer employment opportunities to recent inmates like himself.

Organizers of the event shared that line of thinking.

"Doesn't matter if you're an excavator or a roofer, or if you wash floors," said Alana Newton, with the 7th Step Society of Canada.

"You have to have some sort of a component that is going to help the community."

'Make them feel like they have a sense of worthiness'

Our Thyme Cafe in Dartmouth is a local example of a social enterprise. Manager Tracy Childs said the business focuses on training and hiring former female inmates.

"Why not make use of people? Give them something to do to make them feel like they have a sense of worthiness because everybody does," she said.

Saturday's social enterprise meeting was just one of many discussions planned as part of the 7th Step Society of Canada's annual general meeting, held this year in Halifax.

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