'Best social program is a job,' Minister hopes to duplicate Windsor job centre service model
Lisa MacLeod wants to help get people employment ready for vacant jobs
Minister of children, community and social services Lisa MacLeod stopped at the Unemployed Help Centre of Windsor (UHC) to see what resources were available to help people get out of economic poverty.
The stop included a tour of the facility, which has multiple services under one roof. It seemed to impress MacLeod, who said the successful elements of the centre should be duplicated.
"One of the things we're trying to do in my ministry is reform social assistance, ODSP, and Ontario Works, to provide more wrap-around supports like what's happening here," she said.
There is a variety of services available at UHC, including youth career services, free workshops and employment skills training.
- 32% of children in Windsor-West living in poverty, analysis shows
- Health officials say $14.81 an hour is what it costs to live comfortably in Windsor-Essex
There are also English classes for newcomers, child care services and computer and skills training. The centre helps those who are unemployed, underemployed and those who have a hard time retaining jobs.
The minister said one in seven people live in poverty in Ontario.
According to a 2018 study by anti-poverty advocacy group Campaign 2000, 32.1 per cent, or about 8,680 children, were considered low-income in the Windsor West riding.
"We really have a lot more to do as a province to assist communities like Windsor, getting people back on track," MacLeod said. "When you look at a facility like this one, it really does have the right approach."
For her, "the best social program is a job."
One of her goals is to get people employment-ready for available jobs. MacLeod put the number of available positions at 200,000.
"Multiple services under one roof is very helpful so when they access your services, they have easy access to all services," said June Muir, CEO of UHC.
Provincial funding fuels many of the programs at the centre, including literacy and basic skills training, Canada and Ontario job grants, the pre-apprenticeship cooks program and Employment Ontario services.
However, according to Muir, even with all of those services, it can still be difficult to break the cycle of poverty.
"People can't afford to go back to school," said Muir. "The higher the level of education that you have, the less likely you are to live in poverty."
Although she said it may be difficult, there are many ways the UHC provides supports for people to become employed.